Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001 Page: 32
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THF Chairman of the Board Lewis Jones
interviewed Jenkins Garrett of Fort
Worth, who along with his wife, Virginia,
is considered one of the preeminent collectors
in the state.
For us, the map adventure began
with a 1960s purchase of a map by Virginia
in a small "left bank" bookshop on the
River Seine in Paris, France. The map in
that tiny shop revealed the concept of a
17th century cartographer of that part of
the Gulf of Mexico bordering lands that
became Texas and northern Mexico.
Virginia showed the map to me in
the bookshop. Up until that time, my collection,
which I had been working on since
taking a course concerning the great plains
of Texas taught by the distinguished
Prescott Webb, had been confined
to books and manuscripts.
I had avoided the field of maps.
When we returned to the hotel,
I noticed that Virginia had purchased
the map. She explained
that this map helped her visualize
the time and place that the
map represented. For the first
time, both of us recognized that
the cartographer and the author
truly needed each other's product.
The narrator furnished the
verbal description, and the cartographer
created a portrait of it.
The maps acquired by Virginia
through the years, for the
most part, show the Gulf of Mexico, but all
included Texas and the Southwest. Each of
her acquisitions was selected in order to support
and supplement my collection relating
to Texas and the Mexican War of 1846.
As of 1997, when she donated her collection
to the University of Texas at Arlington,
Virginia had amassed 900 flat maps dating
from 1540 and 450 atlases and globes.
In regard to why the collections were
placed at UTA, I recall that Virginia and I
spoke of the desire to physically place the
documents in the Fort Worth area, which
we felt lacked library and research facilities
in the areas of our collection. It was
pointed out to us that there were approximately
150,000 students beyond the high
school level within the radius of 50 miles
of UTA. The offer of support and cooperation
by the Board of Regents of the
University of Texas System and the administration
of UTA to provide space and attractive
reading rooms was most gratifying.
However, the most important factor was
the pledged common goal to work together
in the building of a comprehensive special
collection to serve students and individuals
in the fields of the collections. And that
common goal is obvious by the fact that
the cartographic collection now holds some
5,000 flat maps, 2,300 atlases and globes,
and 3,500 books and periodicals.
I am grateful to Virginia for leading
the way in this great map collecting adventure.
Maps help us "see" places. The
landmark map of La Louisiane drawn by
the cartographer DeLisle (page 17, figure
5), dated 1718, reveals to the world for the
first time an approximate accurate location
of the Mississippi River, the rivers and the
settlements of Mexican Texas, and the
range of Indian tribes. Stephen F Austin's
maps of the 1830s spur our imagination as
to the settlement and environment of early
Texas. In my opinion, the work of these
cartographers is akin to the astronauts and
the expanders of the Internet during the
HERITAGE * 32 * WINTER 2001
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001, periodical, Winter 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45384/m1/32/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.