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Cultural landscape map of NELA donated to ULM

Published September 2, 2016

MONROE, La. — The University of Louisiana Monroe received a donation of a large cultural landscape map of northeast Louisiana at a special presentation on campus Friday morning.

The 4x6 foot map is the brainchild of Joe Cooper Rolfe, who oversees Starr Homeplace—a heritage and creativity center in Oak Ridge, La. The map represents more than 2,000 hours of work by Rolfe and Jim Pennington over a three-year period. Thirty pages of text condensed into three columns on the map explain the history, geography and culture of the region. 


“I realized that we had a tremendous untapped asset. And then I started saying, ‘I need to go around and see what our assets are.’ The list of cultural assets that I had got longer and longer and longer. And I realized…they are not assembled in any one place for people to look at. So I thought this map for schools and libraries and museums would be a good thing to have,” said Rolfe.

The map was conceived, designed, researched and printed in northeast Louisiana. Bob Stratton, a photographer in Monroe, executed the printing of the maps, and former Louisiana Sen. Robert J. Barham secured a grant from the state to print 100 copies for Rolfe to donate to schools, museums, libraries, courthouses and cultural institutions.  

While over 200 non-profit organizations had been identified to receive the map, Rolfe says that they still have about half of the maps left to give away. The map is free, but the cost of framing is not, which Rolfe says is a barrier for many organizations.

“The barrier for a great many people is the cost of framing the map because it’s large,” said Rolfe. “And fortunately, Dr. [John H.] McCarter stepped up and was willing to contribute the cost of framing for this map, which made it much more practical for the university to accept.”

McCarter, who celebrated his 95th birthday in July, is a long-time supporter of ULM. He joined ULM in the 1950s as its first geology professor and became head of the geology department, which was established under his direction. 

ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno met McCarter in 2010 when he became president of the university. “He was one of my first visitors. From that point on, I developed quite a personal fondness for [McCarter] but a very strong appreciation for his knowledge. He’s a walking encyclopedia,” Bruno said.

Bruno thanked McCarter for funding the framing of the map and announced that it would be put on display in the conference room on the sixth floor of the university library.

McCarter said that the first time he saw the map, he learned a lot from it.

“It’s more of a cultural map of northeast Louisiana but it has an awful lot of geology on it too, whether it was intended to be there or not,” said McCarter. “I learned a lot from this map just looking at it, and I wanted the rest of you to enjoy it and see it too.”       

For more information about the cultural landscape map, visit http://starrhomeplace.com/pandemoniafoundation/culturallandscapemap.htm.