Thomas F. Sander

Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries


Thomas F. Sander was born 70 years ago in Baltimore where he spent his youth and received his undergraduate education.  He attended Loyola University Maryland 1962-1966 and graduated with a BS in Political Science and Sociology. While in college he began to show his budding interest in the military by joining Pershing Rifles which, according to their web site, is “the nation’s premier undergraduate military honor society.”  He also joined Scabbard and Blade whose mission it is to develop military officers.

Tom joined the Army in 1966.  The Army quickly recognized his abilities and from 1970-1972 sent him to American University where he obtained a MA in International Studies, specializing in European Affairs.  In 1984 Tom attended University of North Carolina at Charlotte and obtained a MA in Political Geography. From 1985-1987 he attended the US Army War College where he received a Diploma in National Security.

Tom’s military postings have included Washington DC, Fort Holibird Maryland, Fort Bragg North Carolina, Fort Leavenworth Kansas, Vietnam, Turkey, Germany, England, and the Netherlands.  Tom served in Vietnam for two years from battalion to corps level; he received two Bronze Star Medals. For much of his career he was a Foreign Area Officer (Western Europe). Upon retirement he was awarded the US Army Legion of Merit.  He also received the Netherlands Ministry of Defense Medal of Merit (in Gold) for his over three years of service in that country as a military attaché; he was a key planner of the US participation in the country’s nationwide commemorations of the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II.

Tom retired from the Army as a Colonel in 1996 after 30 years of distinguished service.  He then started 19 years, and still counting, of volunteering his services to the history of discoveries and cartographic community.  He joined the Society for the History of Discoveries within a year of retiring from the Army, and was on the SHD Council by 2005. In 2006 and 2007 he was Vice-President and arranged the SHD meetings in Portland Oregon in 2006 and Chicago in 2007.  Tom was SHD President from November 2007 to October 2009. He has served the Society as Web Content Manager since 2000; the website’s success as a worldwide “public face” of our Society is due to his work in acting as the sole point of contact for all materials appearing at the site.  In addition, Tom has reached out to other individuals and groups and publicizes the activities of SHD and Terrae Incognitae on various electronic mailing lists.

Tom also is very active with the Washington Map Society.  He served as Vice-President in 2000-2001 and President 2001-2002.  He has been editor of The Portolan: the Journal of the Washington Map Society since 1997.  As editor, Tom changed the thrice-yearly The Portolan from a black-and-white to a multi-colored publication, increasing its size from approximately 40 pages in each issue to 80 pages.  Membership in the Washington Map Society has increased by more than thirty-three percent. Sixty percent of the membership lives outside the Washington Metropolitan area, and fifteen percent live outside the United States.  Many members join just to receive The Portolan, which can be found in over 50 libraries around the world including the British Library in London, Cambridge University Library, Bodleian Library in Oxford, the National Archives in Kew, National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, and Trinity College in Dublin.  The Washington Map Society has honored Tom with a Lifetime Membership Award.

For his service to the Society for the History of Discoveries as an officer, for his numerous years of service as the “public face” of SHD to the general public as SHD Web Content Manager, and for his years of service as publicist of SHD events on the Internet, we honor Thomas F. Sander and name him a Fellow of the Society for the History of Discoveries.

Fifty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries
London, England
July 9, 2015

Prepared by John W. Docktor


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