Library of Congress Acquires Archives of the American Association of Geographers

The American Association of Geographers (AAG)—a nonprofit scientific and educational society founded in 1904—is donating its archives to the Library of Congress. The acquisition will be housed in the Library’s Geography and Map Division, which holds the largest map and geography collection in the world.

For more than 100 years, AAG has contributed to the advancement of geography by promoting discussion among its members and with scholars in related fields. Members of AAG hail from more than 60 countries. They share their interests in the theory, methods and practice of geography through collaborative groups, an annual meeting, scholarly journals and the online AAG newsletter.

The AAG archives includes books, booklets, articles authored by AAG geographers, correspondence involving the AAG executive directors and the AAG board of directors, conference programs and proceedings, and more. It will join the 380 hours of AAG’s "Geographers on Film" series of videos, which were donated by AAG to the Library several years ago. These materials—with the Library’s History of Computer Cartography Project and items from such important cartographers as Roger Tomlinson, John Snyder, Marie Tharp and Richard Edes Harrison—make the Library of Congress one of the largest and most important repositories of materials related to the history of geography in the United States.

The donation continues the long association that has existed between the Library and AAG. Former Geography & Map Division chiefs Lawrence Martin and Walter Ristow served as president and secretary of AAG, respectively. The current chief, Ralph Ehrenberg, served as AAG’s first archivist.

Ehrenberg said, "The addition of the AAG archives to the Geography and Map Division’s other archival collections makes the Library a center for the study not only of the history of mapping but also of geography, as it developed in the modern era in the United States."

AAG’s worldwide membership includes geographers and related professionals who work in the public, private, and academic sectors. They work in a wide range of careers, from community-college instructors, federal, state and local government employees, planners, cartographers, scientists, non-profit workers, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, elementary and secondary educators to graduate students, retirees and university administrators.

The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.4 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The cartographic collections cover every country and subject, in formats ranging from early manuscripts to the most up-to-date digital geospatial data and software. The collections include the works of some of the most important surveyors and mapmakers in America, such as George Washington, Meriwether Lewis, and Richard Edes Harrison, along with archives relating to the history of geography in the United States. For more information, visit loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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