Louis C. DeVorsey, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia, died in April 2012. He passed away shortly after our last newsletter was prepared for distribution.
DeVorsey began his teaching career at East Carolina University during 1962-1965 and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill during 1975-1967. For the next 21 years, he taught at the University of Georgia in Athens, where he was promoted to professor in 1973. He served as head of the Department of Geography during 1970-1972. Throughout his career, he held visiting professorships at the universities of British Columbia, Victoria, Mount Allison, and New Brunswick in Canada, and at the University of Miami in Florida.
He received his B.A. from Montclair State University, his M.A. in geography from Indiana University in 1954, and his Ph.D. in geography from the University of London in 1965. After completing his studies at Indiana University, he entered the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport News, RI where he was commissioned as an ensign. At death he held the rank of Commander, USNR-Retired.
His list of publications in the fields of exploration and discovery and the history of cartography is impressive. He authored or edited The Georgia-South Carolina Boundary: A Problem in Historical Geography (1982), The Indian Boundary in the Southern Colonies, 1763-1775 (1966), The Atlantic Pilot (1974), De Brahm’s Report of the General Survey in the Southern District of North America (1971), In the Wake of Columbus (1985), and the award-winning Keys to the Encounter: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of the Age of Discovery (1992). One of his most important contributions was editing and enlarging the third edition of William P. Cumming’s The Southeast in Early Maps (1998).
In addition to his books on historical geography and the history of cartography, DeVorsey focused his research for more than 30 years on maps produced by indigenous peoples, the most recent titled “The Importance of Native American Maps in the Discovery and Exploration of North America” in Terrae Incognitae in 2010.
DeVorsey was highly respected in regard to litigation concerning both sea and land boundaries. He appeared as an expert witness in at least five original actions before the U.S. Supreme Court. He conducted research for the U.S. Department of State in connection with the U.S.-Canada seaward boundary dispute in the Gulf of Maine. This case was adjudicated by the International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands where DeVorsey served as one of three Geographer Legal Consultants to the U.S. Litigation Team.
The AAG gave him its Honor Award for Meritorious Contributions to the Field of Geography in 1975, and in 1983 he was presented the Honor Award in Applied Geography by the AAG. DeVorsey served the Society for the History of Discoveries as Vice President/President during 1979-1982, and was named a Fellow of the society in 2005.