Log in




  • 29 Sep 2022
  • 1 Oct 2022
  • St. Louis, Missouri


63rd Annual Conference

The Society for the History of Discoveries


St. Louis, Missouri

29 September – 1 October, 2022 

St. Louis University, co-sponsored by the

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies 

The 63rd Annual Meeting of The Society for the History of Discoveries will be held in the Pere Marquette Gallery at St. Louis University and will be cohosted by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

The opening reception will take place on Thursday evening (29 September); the conference follows on the next two days. There will be a post-conference excursion on Sunday (2 October).

NOTE:  If you are a member of the SLU Community and would like to attend, please email for instructions.

Theme: At the Heart of the Continent

Native Americans and Newcomers in the Upper Mississippi Region


Often referred to as the “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis was founded by French fur traders in 1764, ceded to Spain within the year, and returned to French control in 1800; it then was bought by the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. It was a territory that was rich in people and natural resources.  Directly across the Mississippi River from the city are the Cahokia Mounds, a major center of the Mississippian peoples who flourished in the area through the fifteenth century.  Several Native American nations lived in this region in the historic era as well, including the Osage or “People of the Middle Waters.”  Trajectories of cultural contact, trade, and exploration radiated in all directions from this land. This intriguing place offers the inspiration for our conference.


Thursday, 29 September 

4:00 pm    Karin Velez: "Refugee Trauma and the Ambiguities of Miracles: An Historical Case Study of the Flying House of Loreto."  To be held in the Center for Research on Global Catholicism at St. Louis University, followed by a reception hosted by CRGC.

Friday, 30 September

8:30 am   Coffee/tea and conversation

9: 00-10:15 am   President’s Welcome and Introduction of Keynote Speaker

Keynote address: Peter Kastor

10:15-10:30 am  Break 

10:30am-11:45 am  Session 1, Shades of the West

Alistair Maeer, Chair

Gary A Davis   “Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Andrew Ellicott, Lewis and Clark, and Lunar Distances”

Charles Travis   “Mapping the ‘Chain-Smasher’: John G. Neihardt’s A Cycle of the West (1919-1941)”

Wes Brown  “The Revolutionary Cartography of Hal Shelton”

11:45 am -1:00 pm   Lunch    Each one on his/her own

1:00-3:00 pm  Meet in Jesuit Archives and Research Center; tour and book presentation by Mirela Altić 

3:30-4:45pm  Session 2, French Ambitions

Wesley Brown, Chair

Mack Brza  “Exploring Kateri: New France, Jesuit Missions, and the Mississippi”

Richard Gross & Craig Howard   “Why La Salle Hung French Hopes on a Western Branch:  The Maps of Franquelin and Coronelli”

Richard Gross & Craig Howard   “La Salle's Texas Enterprise and Louis XIV's Imperial America”

6:00 – 8:30 pm   Annual Banquet with after-dinner speaker at the  Moto Museum.  Introduction by Alistair Maeer

Our banquet speaker is S. Max Edelson (University of Virginia):

“Into the Continent: How John Ogilby’s America Imagined

the North American Interior”

Saturday, 1 October

9:30 to 11:00 am   Excursion to the Missouri History Society Library and Research Center,  hosted by Christopher Gordon and Emily Jaycox

Transportation to the Library will depart from the Element Hotel no later than 9:10 am.

11:15-11:30 am  Break 

11:30 am – 12:45 pm:  Session 3, Networks of Knowing

Alistair Maeer, Chair

Lydia Towns: “Merchants, Books, and Networks of Knowledge in Sixteenth-Century England”

Jonathan Richie: “The Bell of the Santa Maria: Examining the Authenticity of Claimed Columbus Ship’s Bell”       

Nathan Braccio: “How Indigenous Mapping Helped to Facilitate European Exploration in New England”      

12:45 - 2:00 pm  Lunch and business meeting – boxed lunches 

2:00-3:15 pm   Session 4, British Exploration

Lydia Towns, Chair

Katherine Enright   “Natural History In and Out of the Tropics: Retracing the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings” 

Dr. Rachel Banke   “Imperial Hubris on the British Mississippi Boundary”

Alistair Maeer   “Betwixt and Between,  Prester John and the Mapping of the Mascaret:  Edward Barlow and Seventeenth-century Scientific Curiosities (1659-1677)"

3:15-3:30 pm   Break

3:30-4:30 pm   Session 5, Landscapes of Exploration 

Anne Good, Chair

Mylynka Kilgore-Cardona   “Exploring the Ideal: Nineteenth-Century Explorer Typologies”

Mirela Altic   “In the Heart of the Rockies: Pierre-Jean de Smet, S.J., and the Mapping of the Native Landscapes of the American Northwest”

Close of Meeting, President Anne Good

Sunday,  2 October

Excursion: Cahokia Mounds with Professor Tom Finan. Leave St. Louis University at 9:00 am; return by 2:00 pm at the latest.

We have exciting things planned for the conference this year.  This is one meeting you will not want to miss!  

Jesuit Archives and Research Center

In addition to our paper presentations, on Friday (30 September) we will visit the Jesuit Archives and Research Center for a tour, and for a book presentation by SHD past-president Mirela Altić. 

Missouri Historical Society

Library and Research Center

On Saturday (1 October) we will visit the Library and Research Center of the Missouri Historical Society to take a behind-the-scenes tour focused on their collection of items connected to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as other material connected to the theme of the conference. 

Keynote Speakers

Our hosts at St. Louis University have invited participants in the SHD annual meeting to attend the first public lecture of their newly founded Center for Research on Global Catholicism, on 29 September (Thursday) at 4:00 p.m. The speaker will be Karin Vélez, Associate Professor of History at Macalester College,  who has recently published the award-winning book, The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto:  Spreading Catholicism in the Early Modern World.  Prof. Vélez’s talk is "Refugee Trauma and the Ambiguities of Miracles: An Historical Case Study of the Flying House of Loreto."  SHD members also are invited to attend the reception following this presentation.  

On Friday, September 30, the Keynote Address to launch the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries will be presented by Peter J. Kastor, Samuel K. Eddy Professor of History and American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Kastor is the author of numerous books and articles that focus on telling the history of the early American Republic from the viewpoint of the heart of the continent. He is an authority on the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, having published The Nation’s Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America (2004) and William Clark’s World: Describing America in an Age of Unknowns (2011). He is also one of the editors of the recent book French St. Louis:  Landscape, Context, and Legacy (2021). Professor Kastor’s expertise in the history of this region makes him the ideal person to open our conference with its theme: “At the Heart of the Continent: Native Americans and Newcomers in the Upper Mississippi Region.”

Post-conference Excursion

The post-conference excursion will take place on Sunday, 2 October, and will head eastward across the Mississippi River from St. Louis to the Cahokia Mounds, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This incredible mound complex was the largest and most influential of the four major social and ritual sites of the Mississippian peoples of the Southeast. The site was first settled around 600 CE, flourished in the 11th and 12th Centuries, and was eventually abandoned around 1350 CE. At its height, this urban center included 120 mounds, of which 80 are still standing, including the massive “Monks Mound.” Although the interpretive center is currently closed for renovations, we will have the benefit of the expertise of Professor Thomas Finan, chair of the History Department at St. Louis University, and director of numerous archaeological projects in the region.  Prof. Finan will guide us around the site and share his knowledge. The plan is to travel together in a bus, departing from the Element Hotel on Sunday morning at 9am, drive to the site in Illinois (about 20 minutes away), walk around and view Cahokia, eat lunch and then return to St. Louis in the early afternoon. The cost of the excursion will be $65, and we will need a minimum of 10 people to make it happen. Please register as soon as possible.


Hotel Facilities

SHD has a block of rooms being held at  Element Hotel within easy walking distance of the main conference venue at St. Louis University, as well as many midtown restaurants and entertainment venues.  The special conference rate is $139 per night. Please make your reservations as soon as possible and definitely before 29 August in order to take advantage of this rate. Use this convenient link to book your room: 

Book your group rate for The Society for the History of Discoveries

Please note that there is an additional parking fee of $25 per night because the hotel does not have an onsite lot.     

Room reservations may be cancelled 48 hours prior to arrival without penalties.

There are numerous hotels in the surrounding area.  Many are located within easy walking distance of a MetroLink station and no more than one stop away from the Grand Station (two blocks south of Saint Louis University.  St. Louis is a major metropolitan area, so you will be able to find many more accommodation choices in the suburbs, if you are able to drive or access other transportation. 

Conference Registration

The registration fee covers access to the presentations (with coffee/tea breaks), programmed excursions, the reception on Thursday, and the banquet on Friday. The post-conference excursion on Sunday is a separate fee.  The contact person who can help with any questions regarding the conference is Anne Good, SHD President.  Her email address is

Note that we have a dietary restrictions field on the Registration Form.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software