Whether for a government agency, an airline pilot, or or simply a college student finding her way around campus--maps can be found almost everywhere and are used for all kinds of purposes.
They guide, they teach, they show, and they hide.
Technology today has afforded us maps that can be generated at the click of a button, but the maps in this rare and finely-cultivated scholar's collection take us back centuries before. Dr. Cumming spent the latter half of his lifetime delving into cartographic history and had a good many travels to collect the maps we house in the Smith Rare Book Room. His trips included travel to places like the Windsor Castle in England during his Europe cartographic tour from 1958-59 or to Rome to negotiate the purchasing of Sebastian Munster's 1540 map of the New World-- the oldest in the collection.
The collection is a master compendium from an expert himself, with supplemental reference books, exhibition pamphlets, map dealer's catalogues, other scholarly and related books, and other resources. Whether interested in European colonial history, attitudes toward Native Americans, voyages to the New World, cartouche drawings, or anything in between, these maps may be a helpful resource for you. While most of the maps cover the Southeastern region, there are some from a few other regions like Spain, Mexico, and Italy.
Furthermore, we also have a detailed print catalog of all of the 48 maps in the collection with a description of the special features of each map as elucidated by Dr. Cumming. If you are interested in seeing this catalog, please contact us.
On the Cumming Map Collection, Dr. Helen Wallis, former Map Librarian of the British Library, very well-known in map circles, and longtime friend of the Cumming's, has called it, "The finest collection of American maps of the Southeast in private hands." She also said,
For a scholar, this collection is a paradise. The maps of the Southeast preserved in the great libraries of Europe and America are dispersed. Here at a stretch of a hand, the scholar can pick out maps and books, all well documented. These record the evolution of a great country in what were to European eyes the wilderness of territories of the New World.