ASU Library to host 'Dutton's Atlas Symposium: How Cartography Helped the Grand Canyon become Grand'

Published Sep. 08, 2022

Celebrate “Dutton’s Atlas,” a masterpiece of early geological inquiry into the Grand Canyon. The public is invited to attend a free symposium presented by the Map and Geospatial Hub at Hayden Library on ASU’s Tempe campus. The event takes place on Saturday, October 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

An illustration of the Grand Canyon from Dutton's Atlas

The free and open-to-the-public symposium event will offer insightful presentations on the various historical, geographical and socio-cultural dimensions of Dutton's Atlas, the first publication of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). 

“The project is centered on some of the first maps, art, and literature created by the United States government to convey the complex geographies of the Grand Canyon and broader Colorado Plateau regions,” said Matthew Toro, Director of Maps, Imagery and Geospatial Services. “Collectively, these materials laid an intellectual foundation and informed a geographical consciousness that would later influence resource and conservation policies in the US, such as the legislation that led to Grand Canyon National Park in 1919 or that of the Colorado River Compact in 1922.” 

Authored by Clarence Dutton, the “Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District with Atlas” (1882) known as “Dutton’s Atlas,” provided the world’s first comprehensive treatment of Grand Canyon geology. What began as a work of science has survived as an unparalleled work of literature and landscape aesthetics, and revolutionized how modern society came to understand the Grand Canyon. 

The symposium event on October 22 will feature presentations from experts in the fields of history, geology, art, and others including a keynote presentation by Stephen Pyne, ASU professor emeritus, and author of the book, "How the Canyon Became Grand."

In addition to the symposium, an accompanying exhibit will be on display at Hayden Library for visitors to view landscape illustrations and topographic maps, as well as dive deeper into the ideas explored in the atlas.

Attendees can register through Eventbrite and attend in person at Hayden Library on ASU's Tempe campus or find options to join online. 

To learn more about the project, visit the Map and Geospatial Hub, or read more about the project in ASU News.

This event is supported by the Arizona Humanities and Arizona State University.