Arthur Holzheimer

Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries


Arthur Holzheimer is a most knowledgeable collector of early printed world maps, maps of the Old World discovery of the New, and maps of the subsequent American discovery of the Trans-Mississippi West. For over four decades he has unselfishly and unflaggingly shared his extensive expertise, collections, other resources, and friendship with scholars and teachers of the history of discovery, exploration, and cartography and their students, fellow collectors, and many others, and in the process, he has gained their profound respect and gratitude. That is why to bestow this honor on him from the Society for the History of Discoveries is wholly fitting.

Art was born on 17 March 1932 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Highland Park High School in that suburb of Chicago in 1950 and from Stanford University in 1954. He met his future wife, Janet Ann Givel, on a blind date at an Indiana University football game in 1957, and they were married two years later. They have two daughters, Laura (b. 1963) and Ellen (b. 1966).

It was during his years in the investment business that Art first became interested in antique cartography. As a business partner was redecorating his office, in part with old maps, Art quickly became more fascinated with them than his partner, for they seemed to bring together his own varied interests in art, history, and geography. This attraction led Art to the source of his partner’s maps and into a lifelong collecting relationship and friendship with the prominent Chicago map dealer Kenneth Nebenzahl. With regard to the old maps, Art recalls that it was “love at first sight!” Initially and usually receiving them as presents for birthdays and other holidays, he just collected those that appealed to him, particularly those with family connections or artistic allure. But gradually, and especially after his early retirement in 1985, he came to concentrate on maps of the world, discovery and exploration, and the American West as well and to associate more fully with The Newberry Library in Chicago.

Art and Jan’s generous support for greater public access to and understanding of historical cartography really began when for Art’s fiftieth birthday his father established a map purchase fund at The Newberry Library. Since then, their giving has come to include establishing a fellowship at the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography at The Newberry Library, founding the Maps and America lecture series (now in its sixteenth year) in conjunction with the American Geographical Society Collection at the Golda Meier Library of the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, sponsoring the J.B. Harley Fellowship at the British Map Library in London, creating a new fellowship at the History of Cartography Project at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and much else. Art also continues freely to lend his maps to numerous major exhibitions across the United States.

The Richard A. Gleeson Library Associates of the University of San Francisco honored Art as a map collector, donor, and benefactor with their prestigious Sir Thomas More Medal in 1991. He however firmly believes that his greatest rewards come through the contacts he makes in exposing people to the wonders of maps and through his giving and personal collecting. For Art, collecting, erudition, generosity, and congeniality have always gone hand-in-hand.

Art is a founder of the Phillip Lee Phillips Society supporting the activities of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress and the current co-chair of its Steering Committee. He is also a founder of the Chicago Map Society and a member of the International Map Collectors Society, the Washington and Texas map societies, and the Advisory Committee of the Miami Map Fair. He has been a member of the Society for the History of Discoveries since 1984 and has served twice on its governing council.

For his contributions to the history of discovery, exploration, and cartography, to The Newberry Library, to the academic excellence of the University of Wisconsin, and more, and to our own learned society, we honor Arthur Holzheimer and name him FSHD—Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries.

Forty-fifth Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries
Cody, Wyoming
September 10, 2004

Prepared by Dennis Reinhartz

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