- Arthur H. Robinson
Arthur H. Robinson (
January 5, 1915– October 19, 2004) was an American geographerand cartographer, who was professor in the Geography Department at the University of Wisconsin in Madisonfrom 1947 until he retired in 1980. He was a prolific writer and influential philosopher on cartography, and one of his most notable accomplishments is the Robinson projectionin 1961.
Arthur H. Robinson was born in
Montreal, Quebec, Canadato American parents. He lived in Great Britainwhile he was young, and received his post-secondary education in the United States. His undergraduate work was done at Miami University of Ohio, obtaining a B.A. degree in 1936. He demonstrated an aptitude for cartography and began drawing maps for faculty textbooks [ [http://www.geography.wisc.edu/cartography/robinson.htm Robinson legacy] Retrieved 2 Sept 2008.] while earning a master's degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madisonin 1938, and he earned his Ph.D. degree from the Ohio State Universityin 1947. [Gregory H. Chu (2004). "Great geographers: Arthur H. Robinson.(Obituary)". In: "Focus on Geography". 22 dec 2004.] While at Ohio State University, Robinson worked to solve problems in the Map communication model.
World War II, Robinson served as director of the map division of the Office of Strategic Services(OSS). In 1941, when Robinson joined OSS, there were no cartographers as we know them today. Robinson engaged geographers with some interest in mapping and the group developed their techniques on the job.Robinson, A. (1979). "Geography and Cartography then and now". Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 69(1), 97-102.] Robinson oversaw the creation of 5,000 hand-drawn mapsand attended the Alliedconferences at Quebecand Cairoin 1943 and 1944 as chief U.S. map officer. For his efforts Robinson received the Legion of Meritfrom the United States Armyin 1946. Current Biography Yearbook. (1996). Arthur H. Robinson, 467-471.]
In 1947 Robinson subsequently joined the geography department at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he spent his career in academia and research. Robinson sought to establish cartographyas a recognized discipline and ultimately the university granted both undergraduate and masters degrees in cartography. The Wisconsin cartography program has conferred more than 100 masters and 20 doctoral degrees, and many of the doctoral recipients created respected cartography programs at other universities. [Slocum, T.; McMaster, R.; Kessler, F.; & Howard, H. (2005) "Thematic Cartography and Geographic Visualization (2nd Edition)". Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 24.] Today the map library at the University of Wisconsin-Madisonis named in his honor. [ [http://www.geography.wisc.edu/maplib/ Map library] at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.]
Robinson served as president of the
International Cartographic Association, and as vice president and president of the Association of American Geographers.
Robinson was a prolific writer and influential
* In "The Look of Maps" (1952) which was based on his Doctoral research, Robinson urged cartographers to consider the function of a map as an integral part of the design process.
* In the text "In The Nature of Maps" (1976), Robinson and co-author Barbara Bartz Petchenik created the term
map percipient,a map user who interacts with a map in a discerning way and not merely as a casual observer. The authors stressed that "...the nature of the map as an image and the manner in which it functions as a communication device between the cartographer and percipient need much deeper consideration and analysis than they have yet received." [Robinson, A. & Petchenik, B. (1976). "The Nature of Maps". Chicago: The University of Chicago Press., p. 20.]
* Robinson also co-authored a widely-used textbook, "Elements of Cartography", the sixth and last edition of which was published in 1995.
One of Robinson's most notable accomplishments is the
Robinson projection. In 1961, Rand McNallyasked Robinson to choose a projectionfor use as a world map that, among other criteria, was uninterrupted, had limited distortion, and was pleasing to the eye of general viewers. [Robinson, A. (1974). "A New Map Projection: Its Development and Characteristics". In: "International Yearbook of Cartography", pp. 145-155. pp. 147-148.] Robinson could not find a projection that satisfied the criteria, so Rand McNally commissioned him to design one.
Robinson proceeded through an iterative process to create a
pseudo-cylindrical projectionthat intends to strike a compromise between distortions in areas and in distances, in order to attain a more natural visualization. The projection has been widely used since its introduction. In 1988, National Geographicadopted it for their world maps but replaced it in 1998 with the Winkel Tripel projection.
Nicolas Auguste Tissot
Robinson produced over 60 articles for professional publications, as well as fifteen books and monographs. Books:
* 1952. "The Look of Maps". Madison:University of Wisconsin Press.
* 1976. "The Nature of Maps". With B. Petchenik. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
* 1982. "Early Thematic Mapping in the History of Cartography".
* 1995. "Elements of Cartography (6th Edition)". With A. Robinson, J. Morrison, P. Muehrke, A. Kimmerling & S. Guptill. New York: Wiley.
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