The IMCoS Helen Wallis Award
IMCoS-Helen Wallis Award 2012
[Abbreviated text of the citation by Tony Campbell presenting the award to Carol and Cal Welch on behalf of Dr. Harold Osher.]
“This year’s winner is the philanthropist Dr Harold Osher, who gave his map collection to the library that bears his name, at the University of Southern Maine, in Portland, USA. The collection was gifted in 1989 and he has been adding to it ever since, as well as fostering the educational centre that makes such imaginative use of it. …
Harold would be the first to acknowledge the important contribution of his wife’s artistic experience to the process of broadening the collection’s cartographic scope. She, incidentally, donated a collection of Winslow Homer wood engravings to the Portland Museum of Art. She recently gave him a large collection of transportation board games. …
In 1994, joining forces with another donated local map collection - one built up by Eleanor Houston & Lawrence M.C. Smith – Harold opened the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education. 15 years later, the collection, now numbering 400,000 items (including donations from others), was made available in a much extended building, strikingly adorned outside with a large version of the Buckminster Fuller dymaxion map. This has been described as ‘possibly the largest exterior map installation in the world’. …
The association between medicine and the history of cartography is a long one and (as Harold pointed out) the subjects are “both graphically oriented combinations of art and science, and both involve teaching”. The Osher Map Library’s full title ends with the words ‘cartographic education’. An independent source has described it as having “earned a national reputation for its commitment to the use of maps in kindergarten through college education. The library offers workshops and online resources for educators, scholarly conferences, and lectures and panel discussions open to the public. Exhibits of facsimile maps travel around New England. A recently expanded website has activities for grades 4-10 and a wealth of information for individual map enthusiasts.”
The first exhibitions were curated by Harold, with Yolanda’s assistance. Later, the captions and images were placed on the Center’s website (devised by Matthew). The seamless mixture of the scholarly and educational was made evident to me when in Portland in 2003. Besides exhibitions designed for the knowledgeable conference participants, five organisations had put on maprelated exhibits, and activities aimed at the whole family. By now, thanks to the initiative of Peggy Osher and the tireless efforts of Yolanda Theunissen, in establishing the Osher Map Library and Smith Center as a beacon for map education, a whole generation in Maine has been exposed, since childhood, to the idea that early maps are not only beautiful but also interesting and relevant.
Philanthropy was part of Harold’s earliest upbringing. His parents believed that if you had a good education and worked hard, you could be successful; and, if that happened, you should give something back. As Harold himself elegantly expressed it: “We came to regard ourselves as the privileged temporary custodians of objects that had a higher destiny... It is a source of great satisfaction to us that the collection that we treasured so much will be preserved and will enrich the lives of generations of children and adults”. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that the winner of the Helen Wallis- IMCoS Award for 2012 is the collector and philanthropist, Dr Harold Osher. Now 88 years old, he understandably does not travel much but we are delighted that Cal and Carol Welch are here to accept the award on his behalf.”
Later at the Osher Map Library, a small gathering was organized by Matthew Edney, Director of the History of Cartography Project, and Osher Professor of the History of Cartography at the University of Southern Maine. Dr. Osher was delighted with the award and enjoyed reading the names of previous winners of the IMCoS award engraved on the salver. He also talked about his first map purchase from Tony Campbell, the Colton map of Maine, which is still in his possession.
For the full text of the citation, see IMCoS Journal No. 130, Autumn 2012, pp. 49-51.
IMCoS-Helen Wallis Award
A Policy scope
- The winner of the Helen Wallis Award is selected annually in accordance with the current IMCoS policy.
- The Helen Wallis Award sub-committee working with this policy is independent in its decisions; neither during the selection process nor thereafter may pressure be brought to bear with the intention to change, alter or prevent the outcome of the selection process.
- The IMCoS membership may be asked to suggest suitable candidates to be submitted not later than 15 February of each calendar year; it will be up to the sub-committee to consider, accept, or refuse membership suggestions.
- IMCoS as a society comprises of map collectors, map dealers, librarians and academics in the field of historical cartography. In the long term, the list of Award winners should reflect this fact, however, no prescribed sequence is required in the short term.
B Award winner profile
The Constitution of the Society states that IMCoS, as a Society, “shall encourage map collecting and preservation and promote research and publications thereof, all in its widest sense and internationally so”.
- The Helen Wallis Award goes to an individual, who in the opinion of the selection sub-committee has been responsible for cartographic contributions of great merit and wide interest to map collectors worldwide. Though the Award is intended to recognise individual merit, in special circumstances a group of people or an organisation could be eligible.
C Guidelines for consideration of potential Award Winners
- As a matter of principle, “great merit to map collectors” includes all activities of those, actively engaged in collecting early maps, studying early maps or working with early maps, as researching, dealing and collecting are intricately interwoven. No single category can adequately access early maps without facilitation and cross-fertilization by the other categories.
- Map collectors shall, in order to qualify for the Award, have a good collection, and be active in the field and share the knowledge of maps with others and make their maps accessible to others.
- Dealers shall do more than just deal, but be knowledgeable, promote research and maybe, publish on maps and charts as applicable. Their catalogues shall reflect these viewpoints.
- Librarians shall actively promote the history of cartography and be known to assist collectors in researching maps and charts.
- Academics shall be of reputable status and have published on map history for an extended period of time.
- All categories shall display their enthusiasm by actively promoting the history of cartography, be that through study, publications, assistance to other categories (for example as benefactors) or in the field of organizing societies, visits, symposia, exhibitions, talks, internet activities or the like.
MCoS policy prescribes that the Award Winner will be selected by the Helen Wallis Award Selection Sub-Committee, consisting of a Chairman and two members, each with a different term of office, to ensure both fresh ideas becoming available and maintaining a measure of continuity. In general, the Award is handed over during the Annual Dinner of the Society in the June weekend in London, normally held in conjunction with the London Map Fair. The current Chairman of the selection Committee is Tony Campbell, well-known to most in the world of the history of cartography.
The IMCoS R. V. Tooley Award has been bestowed upon:
1983 Valerie G. Scott
The IMCoS Helen Wallis Award has, so far, been bestowed upon:
1996 Montserrat Galera I Monegal