When Allied statesmen are sitting around the peace table replanning the boundaries of the world, the chances are good that they will be using maps and globes prepared at Harvards Institute of Geographical Exploration. Founded in 1931 by Alexander H. Rice '98, professor of Geography and a noted explorer of the Amazon, the Institute has largely devoted its energies to the war during the last several years.
Erwin Raisz, Lecturer in Cartography, has collaborated with the Army Service Forces in preparing the "Atlas of World Maps" used by the Army Specialized Training Program to show overseas shipping routes, surface transport facilities, and population. As experts on mountains, Raisz and his proteges are constantly consulted by the State Department, the Coordinator of Information in the War Department, and the Office of Strategic Services.
Prepares Unusual Atlas
In addition to his work for the government, however, Raisz has developed some new and unusual ideas which make his recently-published book, "Atlas of Global Geography," a pioneer work in its field and a genuinely different attempt at popularizing geography.
Emphasizing "geographic landscape," Raisz says that "it is more important to know that a region is tropical forest and not desert than that it is 1000 or 2000 feet above sea level--thus, in this atlas, field is distinguished from forest, savanna from desort, tundra from boreal forest. The characteristics of mountains are indicated, cultivated land is shown and omitted are the couniless names of small places. Not to exclude the absence of gay colors showing where countries are--for who can know where the boundary line of the future will be?"
Originates "Armadillo" Projection
Through the novel means of "cartograms," air view maps, and the revolutionary "armadillo" projection, Raisz's Atlas treats the geography of world problems. A glance at the contents reveals such heretofore ungeographic topics as races, languages, religions, population donsity, poverty, disease, hunger,--and a host of others with even more curent and postwar significance, including geopolities and cultural diversions. "Our attitude on world problems," says Raisz, "depends upon our conception of the magnitude of the work that is yet to be done.
With his excellent textbook on airplane photography, Lt. Col. James W. Bagley, Lecturer in airplane photography, has made a decided contribution to the success of Raisz's "plane's-eye" cartography. Widely used, its significance has been equalled by his fine-lens camera, and added to the work of Raisz and William K. Coburn, assistant in Geographical Exploration, it represents an important scientific effort toward victory. Coburn is noteworthy for work with short-wave radio and trial balloons.
Trains Scientific Geographers
After the war, the Institute expects to return to greater emphasis on training "scientific geographers" and encouraging them with funds and instruments to undertake explorations into the far corners of the earth. In the peace time years of the late twenties and early thirties expeditions traveled to Alaska, China, Cuba, and South America. Bradford Washburn, former instructor at the Institutes who scaled many northern peaks is now designing clothing for the Quartermaster Corps to be used by our Article troops.
The public lecture series, which was discontinued for the duration, is now scheduled to resume next spring. And, speaking generally of the Institute's post-war plans, Raisz declares that "we will have one of the largest map collections in New England, and that is only part of the plans ahead to make Harvard's Department one of the great geographical centers of American universities.