Washington Map Society

Exploring the World of Maps

Founded in 1979, the Washington Map Society (WMS) is an international organization of nearly 400 members worldwide, who are dedicated to promoting the understanding and enjoyment of maps of all kinds. Maps represent an amazingly diverse universe, and whether they are old or new, functional or decorative, manuscript, printed, engraved in stone or digital, they have proven to be amazingly effective in an impressively wide range of human activity. And the members of the Society are almost as diverse as the maps themselves. Our members represent a broad range of professions and activities – historians, collectors, map sellers, researchers, archivists, students, computer scientists, surveyors, and astronomers to name a few.

The WMS is a non-profit organization run by member volunteers and every dollar raised through member dues and donations is used to promote the mission of supporting and promoting map collecting, cartography and the study of cartographic history.

The Journal of the Society, The Portolan.

This thrice per year, heavily illustrated, full-color journal normally runs between 80 and 100 pages and contains well researched articles on cartography, book reviews, and the news of the Society. It is considered to be the premier journal of cartographic interest published in the U.S. An introductory membership includes access to digital copies of The Portolan, while a standard membership offers printed issues mailed to the member. All members receive access to a digital repository of ALL past issues of The Portolan – over 100 issues.

Lectures by the Washington Map Society

The WMS attracts world-class speakers presenting interesting and informative lectures on the many and diverse facets of the world of maps. Monthly lectures are offered in two formats:

1) Online Zoom meetings

2) In-person lectures in a variety of venues in the Washington, D.C. area when health and safety considerations permit. All members receive access to a digital repository of videos with over 30 past speakers from the last 5 years of lectures.

Support for the Walter W. Ristow Prize

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This prize, which includes a $1000 cash prize, is awarded annually by the WMS for an outstanding academic research paper on cartographic history. This competition is aimed at students in the field including undergraduates, graduate students and first year post-doctoral students. The winning paper is published in The Portolan.

The WMS is a non-profit organization run by member volunteers and every dollar raised through member dues and donations is used to promote the mission of supporting and promoting map collecting, cartography and the study of cartographic history.

The WMS offers several annual membership options, including an introductory rate of $25 for a digital membership for first-time members.

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