A display of early maps, books, and prints from the Caltech Archives is now open for viewing on the second floor of Parsons-Gates Hall of Administration. The exhibit is arranged in three parts: Mapping the Earth, Mapping the Skies, and Mapping Longitude. From the earliest printed map, a 1513 reconstruction of Ptolemy’s map of the known world from the 2nd century, to a set of small timekeeping instruments, highpoints in the history of map making and printing are presented, including the all-important search for the means of determining longitude.
The majority of the extraordinary books, prints, and artifacts shown were collected by Earnest C. Watson, former professor of physics and dean at Caltech for many years and also the father of the current Watson Lectures. Watson donated his collections to Caltech in his later years, mostly in the 1960s.
The exhibit is curated by Shelley Erwin, Head of Archives and Special Collections, with the assistance of researcher and writer Barbara Ellis. Funding for the exhibit is provided by the Friends of the Caltech Libraries, Caltech Library Services, and by the Office of the Provost.