Category Archives: History

Williams & Heintz Map Drops the “S”

Williams & Heintz Map Corporation announced it was removing the seemingly superfluous “s” from its name, thereby becoming “William Heintz Map”. It admitted that it had long been fighting a “losing battle” against people who didn’t understand why the extra ‘s’ was there, and it had finally decided to “give up”. The ampersand was also removed because so many people thought that the company was just named after the past President, William Heintz.

The map printer acquired its name when they moved to 8119 Central Ave. in Capitol Heights, Maryland and incorporated on July 1, 1959 as Williams & Heintz Map Corporation. However, evidence suggested that Mr Williams left the business sometime in the 1940s. The current owners if this family business are are 4th generation and never met Mr. Williams.

Much of this article was shamelessly copied from an earlier article.

  • In 1921, the Williams-Webb Company, Inc. was incorporated in Washington, D. C. The Corporation’s main office was located  at 1702-1704 “F” Street, N. W.
  • The Williams-Webb Co. Inc. Changed its name to Williams & Heintz Co. Inc. in 1927.
  • From 1930 to 1958: W & H located at 220 Eye St., NE, Washington D.C., near Union Station.
  • The company changed its name to the Williams & Heintz Lithographic Corporation in 1951.
  • Williams & Heintz Lithographic Corp. built the current operating facility in Maryland and moved into it in 1958.
  • Williams & Heintz Lithographic Corp. was disbanded in Washington D. C., and incorporated in Maryland on July 1, 1959 as Williams & Heintz Map Corporation.




One if by Land, Two if by Sea

The New York Times just published (February 11, 2016) an opinion piece about using the GPS: Ignore the GPS. That Ocean Is Not a Road. By Greg Milner.

Milner gives us some great examples of people who have been led astray by faithfully following their GPS directions for hundreds of miles, across countries, to wrong cities, and into oceans.

Why do people unquestioningly follow their GPS device into the ocean or off a cliff?

Their use weakens our mental maps.

Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating. Since the explosive rise of in-car navigation systems around 10 years ago, several studies have demonstrated empirically what we already know instinctively. Cornell researchers who analyzed the behavior of drivers using GPS found drivers “detached” from the “environments that surround them.” Their conclusion: “GPS eliminated much of the need to pay attention.”

The GPS is a great tool. So is a printed map. They complement each other. I like to use both.

I am not alone in that view. Over on the Practical Sailor Facebook page, they published an article from the Coast Guard News, announcing the approval of the official electronic chart.

“The Coast Guard will allow mariners to use official electronic charts instead of paper charts, if they choose to do so. With real-time voyage planning and monitoring information at their fingertips, mariners will no longer have the burden of maintaining a full portfolio of paper charts,” said Capt. Scott J. Smith, the chief of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Navigation Systems. This technology will also allow mariners to take advantage of information and data to enhance situational awareness during voyage planning and while underway.

They ask, “What’s your opinion on digital vs. paper charts?” The comments  say it all! The sailors want printed paper charts to use with their electronic navigation systems.


One if by Land:  Be sure you take a look at your map and check put the big picture before you jump in the car, program your GPS, and tune out.


Two if by Sea:  Keep an updated paper chart for backup!

As always, Williams & Heintz would be pleased to give you a quote on your map printing project or print a NOAA POD Chart for you.

Soil Maps

2015 is the United Nations International Year of Soils

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS 2015).  In honor of this, here are two soil maps from the Williams & Heintz Map Vault.

Soil map of Talbot County, MD 1929

Soil map of Talbot County, MD. Printed by Williams & Heintz  Co. in 1929.


Section of a SOIL MAP Printed by Williams & Heintz Map Corp. in the 1980s.

Why International Year of Soils?

Soils are a finite natural resource and are nonrenewable on a human time scale.  Soils are the foundation for food, animal feed, fuel and natural fiber production, the supply of clean water, nutrient cycling and a range of ecosystem functions.  The area of fertile soils covering the world’s surface is limited and increasingly subject to degradation, poor management and loss to urbanization.  Increased awareness of the life-supporting functions of soil is called for if this trend is to be reversed and so enable the levels of food production necessary to meet the demands of population levels predicted for 2050.  Soil Science Society of America

You can find interactive, digital soil maps on line at and at the USDA’s Web Soil Survey.

The FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World  has published soil maps of continents and large regions at 1:5 000 000 scale. They would look great as print maps! 😉





Here Be Cats

Cat on the Map

My cat, Sneazer Agustus, is enjoying perusing the 2006 Antique Style World Map. The map was published by American Map Corporation, printed by Williams & Heintz on 80 lb. Aged Parchtone.

In early cartography, map makers used mythical beasts and said, “Here be Dragons,” when they came to a part of the world that was a mystery. They filled the page with fantastic beasts. Maybe even cats? Here be Cats!

Sneazer Agustus Cat on the map

Another reason why map makers may leave information off maps is because they  do not wish to make a political statement with their cartography. They may go out of their way to make the map so that the name or boundary is not included, or is not legible, to stay out of the conflict. “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Cat on the Antique Style World Map

This beautiful map, on parchment like paper, is out of print but a quick google search of “2006 antique style world map” will take you to several sources to purchase. Go ahead, we’ll print more! 😉

Here be Cats!

Here be Cats!

From the Map Vault: Atlanta Tax Maps 1930

Atlanta 1930 Map Corner with Williams & Heintz Co.

Atlanta 1930 Map Corner with Williams & Heintz Co.

Over on our facebook page, Williams & Heintz has a new “like”, and it came with the most Awesome link!  Jack Kittle, of  Decatur, Georgia, found 1927-1930 topographic maps of Atlanta.  Our name is listed in the lower right hand corner.  Here is the link, that will take you to the Digital Gallery at Emory University. They have 75 pages of the City of Atlanta tax plat maps that we printed when my great grandfather first got into the map printing business.

Company lore has it that, one of our original jobs as a map company was engraving, (copper plate), and printing, (stone lithography), tax plats for cities, of which Atlanta was one. Without accurate maps, the cities were losing revenue, because they didn’t know who to send the bill to.

Jack Says, “I first ran into copies of these maps at the DeKalb History Center. Their copies are from the DeKalb County Planning Department. New developments – streets and buildings – were carefully added in black ink until sometime in the 1950s. This fits the tax plat scenario. Note that this usage was not in the City of Atlanta, rather in the area to the east.”

Read more:

A Quick Look at Williams & Heintz Map Corp. in Map Printing History.

What Role Have Women Played in the History of Mapmaking?

MARBL Historic Map Collection: City of Atlanta: Sheet 7 Printed by Williams & Heintz Co. in 1930.

Collection: MARBL Historic Map Collection
Identifier: 07_300dpi
Title: City of Atlanta: Sheet 7
Creator: U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey
Publisher: U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and City of Atlanta Mapping Division
Date: 1930
Description: Color map showing Associated Reform Presbyterian Church, Druid Hills Baptist Church, Druid Hills Presbyterian Church and Springdale Park.
Scale: 2400
Projection: Polyconic
Dimensions: 47 x 39 cm.
Format: image/jpeg
Type: Atlas Map
Country: United States
State or Province: Georgia
County: Fulton County; Dekalb County
City: Atlanta
Full Title: City of Atlanta: Sheet 7. Construction Department, William A. Hansell, Chief; S.P. Floore, Topographic Engineeer in charge. Topography by W.H. Manley. Control by U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and City of Atlanta Mapping Division. Surveyed in 1928. Williams & Heintz Co., Wash, D.C.
Publication Title: Atlas of Atlanta and Vicinity, 1928
Publication Type: City Atlas
Publication Date: 1930
Institution: Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.
Rights: The City of Atlanta has granted Emory University, Woodruff Library, permission to digitize, distribute, display and geo-reference maps produced by the U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey and the City of Altanta Mapping Division in a 1928 survey published as the Atlas of Atlanta and VIcinity. Emory may digitize, display, and georeference the maps in electronic formats, including free public access to maps on the web. The City of Atlanta does not attest to the accuracy of the image. The Maps Content, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, and non-commercial use only.

International Women’s day is March 8 and March is Women’s History Month – What Role Have Women Played in the History of Mapmaking?

Many women’s organizations and governments around the world observe International Women’s Day annually on March 8th. The United States designates the whole month of March as Women’s History Month.  The role of women in the history of mapmaking reminds us to celebrate the accomplishments of women and girls throughout history, and the need to keep working to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life, all over the map.

Judith Tyner, Professor Emerita of Geography, California State University, Long Beach, has researched and shared a lot of the history of women in cartography. She says that Women have played many roles in the history of cartography. There are the usual assumptions, marginal activities, traditional woman’s roles of piece work that could be done at home: coloring maps,  map folding, and stitching atlases. In the 19th century, women taught geography, maps, and “the use of the globes” to privileged young ladies.  The usual way that women would become involved in mapmaking business, was through family. The map trades, printing, and engraving have traditionally been family businesses.

But when you examine maps for the names of engravers, publishers and printers, you discover that women have been involved in cartography from the early days of mapping.   Women were publishers, map sellers, cartographers, drafters, editors, engravers, globemakers, printers, colorists, folders, stitchers, teachers of map reading and mapmaking, cartographic historians, map librarians, and patrons of cartography!

“By the beginning of the twentieth century, the identities of cartographers and map traders had become even more obscure.  Large cartographic firms such as Rand McNally and Hammond formed and began using wax engraving and lithography techniques; map engravers and compilers no longer signed their maps. As companies grew, few retained records… Over time old records were destroyed in the name of efficiency.”

This fits with what I have recently learned about Williams & Heintz, from my cousin Jeanette Schuder, about my Great Aunt Ruth, Born Ruth Lillian Heintz (1913 – 2011)

“Her father co-owned the William and Heintz Company, a lithographic business in DC.  She worked for her dad’s company as a topographical engineer and she drew maps of Bakersfield, California and other new cities.  She also worked for the Geological Survey and drew the original maps of the unmapped territory of the Yukon.”

Ruth was married August 22, 1936, so I figure that her work as a mapmaker was in the early 1930s.  A quick google search for “Bakersfield CA map 1930s” yields  these maps, from the University of Texas Libraries, that may be some of the maps that she worked on.

Bakersfield CA Quad USGS Edition of 1906 Reprint 1936

Avawatz Mountains CA USGS 1933

Even before the second World War, women were encouraged to work as cartographers and cartographic drafters.  During the war, they were hired to replace the men, due to the wartime demand for maps. Government agencies in the U. S. were hiring women because they recognized that our maps were out of date and had insufficient coverage. Women were preferred for drafting, computing and photogrametry. Collections were scattered. Map librarians played an important role in the collection and distribution of maps for the war effort.

Women did not give up cartography after the war. They were successful, and continued to take advantage of trainings  at universities, and job opportunities. Marie Tharp was encouraged to study geology and drafting, she made important contributions to mapping. You can  read about them in  Honoring Marie Tharp, Oceanographic Cartographer, for International Women’s Day


How Do You Map the Ocean Floor? A review of the book, Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, by Hali Felt

Today, women work in all aspects of the mapping industry, from GIS to map printing. Since World War II, we have seen the greatest rise in the number of women involved in the field.  However, continued vigilance and action is still necessary to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained.

Mary Beth Smith, of “Girls Who Print” said, in response to an example of blatant discrimination in the work place today,

” Lets work together. Let the ignorant know that their behavior is neither admired nor tolerated. Show your spouses, your daughters, your sons, and everyone in your orbit your conviction that this is unacceptable behavior. Isn’t it time we stopped acting like this doesn’t happen? Do we not WANT young people and women to bring their gifts, talents, training and expertise to an industry sorely in need of a fresh approach?”


Tyner, Judith, “The Hidden Cartographers: Women in Mapmaking,” Mercator’s World, volume 2, number 6, November/December 1997, pp. 46-51.

Tyner, Judith, “Millie the Mapper and Beyond: The Role of Women in Cartography Since World War II,” Meridian – Map and Geography Round Table of the American Library Association No. 15 1999  pp23-28.

Thanks Judith!

How Do You Map the Ocean Floor? A review of the book, Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, by Hali Felt

Soundings Hali FeltHow do you map the ocean floor?  Who created the first map of the bottom of the sea?

Cartographers were putting the depths of the ocean on the map long before Google Street View provided their very first underwater panoramic images of the Great Barrier Reef, and the Apple map app shipwreck.  The book, Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, by Hali Felt, tells the story.  If you are interested in exploring the history of women in science, and the changes in scientific thought over the last century, then this book is worthy of your time.  Hali Felt brings Marie Tharp and her partner, Bruce Heezen to life.  The biography paints a picture of a unique and remarkable person, how she came to be, and her accomplishments before the digital age, when a woman was not invited, or acknowledged, in the scientific community.

Marie Tharp’s physiographic diagrams of the ocean floor, illustrated to the world, the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift. The story involves a lot of politics and drama in the scientific community.  It makes me glad that I decided to go into the family map printing business, instead of academia.  I loved Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, Hali Felt’s biography of Marie Tharp, and not just because she wrote about Williams & Heintz Map Corp.  My dad used to talk about Marie’s visits to have us print her maps.  He described her as “quite a character”, a unique and colorful individual, bubbling over with personality.  It was a joy to find Williams & Heintz, my dad, and grandfather mentioned in the pages.

In the fall of 1961 the Geological society of America published Marie and Bruce’s second physiographic diagram.  This diagram showed the South Atlantic Ocean, included the Caribbean and Scotia seas, and the eastern margin of the South Pacific Ocean.  Marie spent four years (from 1957, when she finished the North Atlantic, until 1961) drawing the floors of these oceans, which had never been done before; it took her only ten months to re-create the land masses surrounding the oceans, all of which had been well documented before.  When preparing these diagrams, Marie followed the same method she’d used when drawing the North Atlantic: plotting profiles, examining adjacent tracks for trends and regional characteristics, sketching the relief of the terrain along the profiles, and filling in blank areas by extrapolating and interpolating.

In July 1961, while the physiographic diagram of the South Atlantic Ocean was in the process of being printed at the William and Heintz Map Corporation in Washington, D.C., Marie wrote three letters to Bruce.  These letters show how deeply invested she was in what happened to her work when she was finished drawing. After making a trip to D.C. to meet with the printers, she went to Ohio, where her brother had carried on at the farm in Bellefontaine after their father’s death.

“Dear Bruce,” she wrote on July 3, “I thought I would write you a letter about my adventures in Washington with the thought that it might save on your telephone bill.” Bruce had just returned from Russia, a guest of the Academy of Sciences, and Marie wrote that she had waited until she was sure he was “back safe and sound.”

“I left Piermont Monday, June 19 about 5:30 p.m. and arrived at Williams & Heintz next day about 1 p.m.,” she wrote, “having spent the night at a Mobil somewhere between Phila. and Baltimore. Fortunately, both Mr. Heintz & his son were there-the son showed me all around the plant-really a wonderful setup.” On her tour, Marie got to see printing presses and a camera as “big as a room,” none of which would be used on her map because it was, she repeatedly mentioned to Bruce, “too big.”

“I didn’t see the actual outfits they did use on our map-but there was also a huge pie-shaped vat that they pour the colored inks in & whirl around to make the color proofs.”

The printers, Marie told Bruce, had made up a blue-ink print of the South Atlantic map for her to review. All the ocean floor’s texture had been transferred to a metal plate in order to make a negative, but Marie deemed the print made from it too pale-a disappointing result from four years of work.   So she retouched” the whole thing, took a “steel point which must have been used for 20 years or so” and etched the grooves deeper, thousands of miniature valleys in which blue ink would pool instead of water. She fixed a mistake this way, too. The Shag Rocks, a group of islands west of the Falkland Islands, were blurry, and the printer “offered to splice a piece in the negative and I expect they could have done it perfectly,” she wrote. “But I went ahead, scratching in more lines on the negative & the next day still scratching.”

There were also, she said, some mistakes with the markings of degrees along the border and concerning the legend she “suggested that Columbia University be set in smaller type.” The big black Old English typeface “seemed a little overpowering,” so they reduced it by about one-third. “It looked much better.” And then there was the matter of the words Lamont Geological Observatory. “I also wish I had suggested that [they] be moved down a V8 inch from our names-just for proportion’s sake-but I didn’t.”

The map’s contrast worried her the most. “I do hope you will give this matter of contrast your particular attention. I should be crushed to death if it is a washed out print … honest to goodness it’s worth another trip to Washington to see the contrast of the print before a color proof is made … I guess this is enuff for now.” She signed off with the words, “Love Marie.”

Her second letter, dated July 25, 1961, and sent from Bellefontaine, begins much like the first: she is worried about Bruce’s phone bill reaching “astronomical proportions.” She is “flabbergasted” to hear that the new oceanography building on the Lamont campus is almost done. “Excuse this writing but my hand is stiff from painting. I am doing the inside hall-changing dark doors to yellow. On rainy days I paint inside & when it quits raining for two days in a row I do windows outdoors.” There follows some discussion of the lakes in the Andes. “They should not be solid blue or green or edged in green. If they do turn out any of the above ways I think the best thing would be to call up Mr. Heintz and have his boy paint out the color overlay & print the damn lakes in yellow.”

The paragraphs that follow all use the word also: “I also hope you like.” “I should also like to remind you.” “Also I should like to know.” “Also if this guy.” “I am also happy to hear your little model is working out so well” -she was referring here to a globe of the world’s ocean floors with raised relief that Bruce was trying to make. “Have you yet gotten a hold of some dental wax or softer material for final details? … Somehow I would like to be back helping you. It’s very lonely here. Well, keep me posted & write to me. Love Marie.”

Marie never mentioned, in her letters from July 1961, all the new features that she had exposed for the first time in her map of the South Atlantic. What would she have said anyway? Also I should like to point out that we showed the Equatorial Mid-Ocean Canyon, which debauches into the Pernambuco Abyssal Plain, for the first time? Also I should like to note that we showed the Ameghino Canyon, off the coast of Argentina, and the submarine canyon of the Orange River, off the coast of South Africa? Also I should like to remind you that we discovered the Romanche and Chain fracture zones? Bruce didn’t need to know these things, but in order to know the importance of her work, we do.

I wrote previously about Marie Tharp here.

Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor

Hali Felt

Henry Holt

352 pp.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. But what about that place on the map?

Tectonic Map of China and Mongolia showing Korea and the sea to the east

Tectonic Map of China and Mongolia, 1974.  Showing Korea and the sea to the east

In Shakespeare’s play, Juliet asks Romeo,

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

But what about that place on the map?  Place names are often contested.  For example, the Persian Gulf is a name that has been in use for a long time. Arabian Gulf is a relatively new name for the same place, that some Iranians object to.

The Sea of Japan is most commonly used to identify the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula and China.  The Republic of Korea would prefer that it was called the East Sea.

Map makers, who do not wish to make a political statement with their cartography, will often go out of their way to make the map so that the name or boundary is not included, or is not legible, to stay out of the conflict.  When the issue came to our attention, we dug back into the Map Vault at Williams & Heintz to see if we could find any older map, to see what was on it.  Sure enough, this Tectonic Map of China and Mongolia, that we printed for the Geological Society of America, in 1974 has the name of the sea conveniently omitted.

Now, I firmly believe that some old place names are better changed:  place names that are racist, or sexist would smell much sweeter without an offensive name.  My view of political names  is,  “a rose would smell as sweet.”

What do you think?

Paper Map Rose made from a reused map

Paper Map Rose for you, sweet!

 Geologic Quiz No. 1

Beginning in the 1950’s and 60’s Williams & Heintz Map specialized in making, and printing geologic maps.  For advertisement, we ran a  Geologic Quiz  Series in  a publication for geologists called the GEOTIMES.  This is the First one.

Williams & Heintz Map Geologic Quiz 1

Quality and service; that was valuable back then too.

From the Map Vault – Heinrich Berann – National Park Service – Greater Yellowstone

Greater Yellowstone, Heinrich Berann, Printed at Williams & Heintz Map Corp. for the National Park Service

Heinrich Berann is considered the father of the modern panoramic map.

In the 1960s, Heinrich Berann painted a series of posters commissioned by the United States National Park Service.   Greater Yellowstone was one of these that was printed by Williams & Heintz.

At Williams & Heintz, the story has it that, the head of publications  for the National Park Service, Vincent Gleason, actually went up in a small plane with Berann.  They flew around Yellowstone, as Berann made the sketches that became the basis of his painting.

The color separations for printing where made from the actual painting itself, at Mueller Color Plate, in Minneapolis, on a process camera.

The posters are available at the US Government Bookstore.

Matthias Troyer, a grandson of H.C. Berann, maintains a website of Berann’s work.

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