In June 2021, ISHMap awarded the first Prize in Map History.

The projects for the winner and honorable mentions for the inaugural ISHMap Prize in Map History demonstrate exciting and innovative approaches to expanding the audiences for the history of maps and mapping through community engagement and interdisciplinary research.  From traditional exhibitions with dynamic online content to physically bringing map history to local people in the countryside, these projects illustrate how vibrant and interdisciplinary map history can be. Below you will find descriptions of the Winner, Honorable Mentions and other notable submissions.

We trust that these projects will inspire many to lose themselves in maps and spend many fruitful hours tracing their complicated histories and look forward to opening the nomination process for the 2023 ISHMap Prize in Map History in May 2022.

ISHMap Prize in Map History: Jan Trachet, Pourbus Troubador (Belgium)

In this project, Jan Trachet literally brought the history of a medieval painted map by Pieter Pourbus into people’s homes. After processing this map with GIS and tracing the medieval road networks, as part of the Mapping/Painting project, Trachet traveled the paths of medieval roads in the Bruges Vrije using the map as guide and telling its story as he rode. Two one-week bicycle treks were advertised in local media, during which Trachet gave Living Room Lectures to local communities about the map and its history. In doing so, Pourbus Troubadour connected these local communities with the lived experience of wayfinding and the history of maps. In this respect, Pourbus Troubadour models an innovative approach to bringing the history of maps to people where they live and work. 

Honorable Mentions

We are extremely pleased to also announce two runners-up for the prize.

“Quand les Artistes dessinaient les cartes,” submitted by Camille Serchuk (France)

Quand les Artistes dessinaient les cartes—Vues et figures d’espace français, Moyen Age et Renaissance” was an ambitious exhibition of over 100 maps and documents sourced from 39 institutions throughout France which introduced new audiences into the history of maps by animating the intersection of maps and art history. Together these maps and documents about mapmaking tell the story of maps as artistic landscapes and legal instruments rather than primarily the visualization of scientific data. Accompanied by an immersive, 3D-scanned portal into the exhibition and a website that allows you to browse the maps and documents in the exhibition by their locations, “Quand les Artistes dessinaient les cartes” provides multiple access points for people whether or not they could access the physical exhibition.

“Bending Lines: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception,” submitted by Garrett Dash Nelson (United States).

Bending Lines: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception,” a fully online exhibition and curriculum produced by the Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library, provides an incredibly detailed tour through the history of persuasive mapping. “Bending Lines” combines sharp analyses of historical maps—from land speculation to demographic maps—with stories about how contemporary mapmaking and GIS can produce very different maps from the same dataset. And while any reader can sift their way through the fascinating modules, the Leventhal staff have also designed several lessons and activities specifically for K-12 audiences. In all, “Bending Lines” promises to attract new scholars—young and old—into map history while enlightening even the most experienced scholar about the possibilities of persuasive mapping.

Other notable submissions:

Copyright and Cartography by Isabella Alexander (United Kingdom/Australia)

“Copyright and Cartography” forms part of a project investigating the history of cartography and the history of copyright law. The project seeks to evaluate the relationship between the legal regime of copyright and the production, dissemination and use of maps, charts and plans in the 18th and 19th centuries in the United Kingdom and Australia. This website makes available a selection of archival, manuscript and cartographic sources located and analyzed as part of this project. By making available the key materials located for this project, the website hopes to open up space for new explorations and perspectives on the history of both copyright and cartography.

Digital editions of historic maps: perspectives and constraints on the example of Gaul/Raczyński map (1807-1812), by Tomasz Panecki and Piotr Kann (Poland)

The aim of the project was to indicate perspectives and constraints of digital scholarly editing of historic maps based on  the “Geographic, Military and Statistical Map of Greater Poland” (c.a. 1:125,000; 1807-1812). The edition, in other words: the digital representation of map and its content, consists of four elements: 1) map images (scans) 2) georeferenced and mosaicked maps sheets 3) the reconstruction of map’s colours 4) the spatial database. All components are available through the website and the WebGIS application. This is an exemplary solution on how the cartographic heritage can be brought closer to the general public and scholars in the digital environment.

Map of Essex 1777 by Tim Fransen (United Kingdom)

Map of Essex 1777 ( is a website to freely access, learn about and explore a high-resolution and GPS enabled version of the Map of the County of Essex 1777 by pioneering surveyors and mapmakers John Chapman & Peter André. This open access resource supports all modern web browsers, platforms and devices for the benefit of students, teachers, historians, researchers and other interested people.

Medea-Chart Database | a free old nautical charts database, by Joaquim Gaspar, Richard Pflederer, Ricardo Vaz, and Ana Margarida Nunes (Portugal)

The MEDEA-CHART Database is a free-of-charge online information system dedicated to old nautical charts, created under the European Research Council project MEDEA-CHART. The system holds digital images and information about medieval and early modern manuscript nautical charts and atlases from c. 1270 (the date of the Carte Pisane, the earliest extant nautical chart) onward. As of April 2021, the database contains more than 5400 charts (of which about 3500 are part of atlases), 620 atlases, 440 authors and 390 archives.

QingMaps by Mario Cams, Fresco Sam-Sin, and Leon Rodenburg (Macau) is an interactive map analysis and visualization tool for researchers and students. It provides a fully searchable database of thousands of Qing-era toponyms in Chinese and Manchu script, some of which constitute transliterations from Mongolian, Tibetan, Korean, and Russian toponyms. All toponyms were manually indexed by students from the University of Macau and Leiden University. The maps themselves are three large eighteenth-century Qing-era multi-sheet maps and the product of Qing China’s mapping project (1708-1717) and subsequent expansion into Inner and Central Asia over the following decades. These three multi-sheet maps, all indexed by, are crucial to understand the Qing’s interaction with other states on the global stage, with direct implications for PRChina today.