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CASTINE, Maine – On Tuesday, August 28 at 3:00pm, the Castine Historical Society will sponsor an illustrated presentation in the Mitchell Room of the Society’s Abbott School building titled, “Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map: Women and Map Making in World War II”. The presenter will be Maine Maritime Academy faculty member Betsy Reese, an adjunct professor of geography at the college and co-curator of the joint CHS-MMA seasonal exhibit, “Schooner Bowdoin on the Greenland Patrol”.
The presentation, which is free and open to the public, stems from research done by Reese in the course of preparing for the joint exhibit which highlights Schooner Bowdoin’s little-known World War II service. After the 30-minute slide talk, Reese and other curators will lead a gallery tour of the exhibit and provide background insights on the Bowdoin’s contributions to mapping and charting during that time.
During the Greenland Patrol, Schooner Bowdoin was part of the Geodetic Survey team, charting the fiords of Greenland by using triangulation surveys and the fathometer. The information gathered was then sent to Washington, DC where new charts were made of the Greenland coast.
World War II saw an increased need and demand for maps and charts. Dusty, forgotten maps and charts were dug out of archives and libraries to help the allied powers plan invasions, establish bases and airstrips and look for natural resources. New methods of mapping, like photogrammetry, began to be employed as the Army Map Service rushed to meet the new demands for maps. While 9 million maps were produced in the first World War, 500 million maps were produced in World War II.
Faced with a shortage of draftsmen, the military began to train and employ women in mapmaking. Bryn Mawr College as well as other women’s colleges in the East and Midwest began to offer short courses in cartography, photomapping, drafting and map editing, thus providing a much needed work force. The story of these women, and a brief history of women in cartography, is the topic of “Mapmaker, Mapmaker Make Me a Map: Women and Mapping in WWII.”
This release originally published by the Castine Historical Society on Aug. 20, 2012.