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Charting a Geographer's Career with Ron Grim

Dr. Ron Grim has been a geographer for over 40 years. After receiving his PhD from the University of Maryland, Ron embarked on a career that included stops at the National Archives of the United States, the Library of Congress, and the Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library.

On today’s episode, Ron joins Jim Ambuske to discuss his long career as a geographer working with maps at these prestigious institutions. Geography is the study of humanity’s relationship with the Earth and its landscape, something that maps help to illuminate. As you’ll hear, maps are powerful teaching tools that can help us understand our place in the world, or at least the way we imagine it.

Ron is helping the Washington Library evaluate its recently acquired Richard H. Brown Revolutionary War Map Collection. We’ve been fortunate to benefit from his expertise, just as others have over the last four decades.

And be sure to stick around until the end of today’s show. Ron and Jim discuss a criminal caper involving a nefarious map dealer and how Ron’s detective work led to the recovery of a map by Samuel de Champlain.

About Our Guest:

Ron Grim is a graduate of the University of Maryland where he received his Ph.D. in Historical Geography. He is Curator of Maps Emeritus at the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library. He joined the Leventhal Center in January 2005 after a three-decade career working with maps at the National Archives and the Library of Congress. He has curated a number of major exhibitions, including “Rivers, Edens, Empires: Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America” (Library of Congress, 2003) and “We Are One: Mapping America’s Road from Revolution to Independence” (Leventhal Center, 2015).

About Our Host:

Jim Ambuske leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a focus on Scotland and America in an Age of War and Revolution. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  He is the co-author with Randall Flaherty of "Reading Law in the Early Republic: Legal Education in the Age of Jefferson," in The Founding of Thomas Jefferson's University ed. by John A. Rogasta, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrew O'Shaughnessy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019). Ambuske is currently at work on a book entitled Emigration and Empire: America and Scotland in the Revolutionary Era, as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American R evolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.