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Maps of Africa: An Online Exhibit A digital collection of African Maps at the Stanford University Libraries

The Caroline Batchelor Map Collection

Accuratissima totius Africae tabula
Sandrart, Jakob von, 1630-1708 and Homann, Johann Baptist, 1663-1724

Caroline Batchelor began collecting maps in 1967 with a purchase of “a Mercator (map) of Asia and a Hondius (map) of the Philippine Islands.” Ms. Batchelor spent many years overseas with her husband, Peter, who worked for Unilever Limited spending long stretches of time in South America and Africa. Inspired by her time in Zambia she bought her first map of Africa in 1970. This was followed by a posting in Venezuela for three years leading her to purchase maps of South America. She made a very interesting purchase of the first Atlas of Venezuela by Codazzi after Venezuela gained independence in 1815. They returned to Africa with a posting in Malawi in 1976. She decided to concentrate on maps of Africa from then on. Her focus turned to maps of the continent that were published in the 18th and 19th centuries. This period was of interest as it was a time where discoveries, such as the location and the source of the Nile and the Niger, were being made.

Over the course of the next 30 years, she became well-versed in the cartography of Africa. She received catalogs regularly, attended auctions and visited map shops in England whenever she could. Ms. Bachelor’s interest in Africa and its maps also compelled her to collect books about discovery including Henry Morgan Stanley’s work “Through the Dark Continent.” On a professional level, shortly after the International Map Collectors Society (IMCoS) was founded in 1981, Ms. Batchelor joined it and became an active member. She was subsequently recruited to serve as its membership secretary and did so for 8 years. The collection came to Stanford in 2010 much to Ms. Batchelor’s delight as it complemented the collection of Dr. Oscar Norwich, a friend who helped her build the collection of nearly 300 maps.

Other Resources

- IMCoS Article on Caroline Batchelor (pdf). Permission granted by IMCoS.

- Text of Caroline Batchelor’s talk at Stanford University (pdf). Permission granted by Caroline Batchelor.