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Professor Bill Mead’s final publication

Unique essay on the history of cartography in the Nordic countries

Professor Bill Mead’s final publication

Professor Bill Mead was a member of UCL Geography staff from 1948, and Head of Department from 1966 until his retirement in 1983. He was a specialist in the human geography of Northern Europe, particularly of Finland, and remained active in research until his death at the age of 98 in 2014.

His final publication, in 2020, Scandinavian cartography, 1650–1800, is a unique and original essay providing the first general overview of the history of cartography in the Nordic countries for this period.

It forms the introduction to a special issue of the Norwegian Journal of Geography devoted to the history of cartography in Northern Europe, edited by Professor Michael Jones of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Bill’s research into Scandinavian literature and map archives took place in the early 1980s, tapping into a huge variety of largely utilitarian sources, including property taxation, land reorganisation, early town plans, and scientific, military, resource and coastal surveys.

He had already published on the history of Scandinavian cartography, but this essay remained unpublished after its intended outlet, the International History of Cartography, changed its format to favour short contributions.

As Professor Hugh Clout, who undertook preliminary editing of the paper, explains:

“Bill put an enormous amount of time and energy into researching what was a unique and original essay back in the ‘80s. He visited many libraries, archives and map collections in each of the countries and, of course, his referencing was all done in the pre-internet age!

Given this effort he was really upset when the format of the International History of Cartography changed and his meticulous text was returned to him.

Michael Jones has done a wonderful editorial job, adding some illustrative maps and checking and adding to the references.

From the Map Library in the Sky, I am sure Bill is delighted to know that it has finally been published!’

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Bill Mead


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