Rare Book Monthly
Stanford University Libraries presents “The Rediscovery of Africa,1400-1900:Maps & Images”
By Jonas Raab
After more than two years of intense preservation, digitization, and cataloging, Stanford University Libraries, Department of Special Collections, announced the opening of The Rediscovery of Africa, 1400-1900: Antique Maps & Rare Images, an exhibition showcasing the University’s collection of antique African maps. Stanford University holds one of the largest and most diverse African map collections in the world, containing about 570 maps, and since April 1 it has been on display at the institution’s Cecil H. Green Library in Palo Alto, California. Also on display are two antiquarian texts, the famous atlas by Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum; and John Ogilby’s Africa.
The Norwich Collection of African Maps
The maps of the Norwich Collection were collected by Dr. Oscar I. Norwich (1910-1994) over more than four decades and were published in 1997 in Norwich’s Maps of Africa: an Illustrated and Annotated Carto-Bibliography. Dr. Norwich was born and lived in Johannesburg and was a practicing surgeon. The soccer stadium in Tsumeb, Africa, was named after him, “The Oscar Norwich Stadium.”
The collection was acquired in 2001 in part by a donation from William R. and Yvonne Jacobson, who were instrumental in establishing the Jacobson Africana Collection program at Stanford. William Jacobson earned a Masters in Business Administration at Stanford in 1960 and is the guest curator of the exhibit. He wrote the exhibition’s catalogue, which is available for purchase at $25 and contains color reproductions of some of the maps in the collection along with a series of essays by Mr. Jacobson. Mr. Jacobson wrote in the catalogue, “These maps…chronicle the European encounter with African kingdoms, the slave trade…and the 19th-century ‘Scramble for Africa…’”
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