California Map Society

The California Map Society (CMS) is a founding friend of the David Rumsey Map Center. As partners, each years we give an award to an outstanding paper written by an undergraduate. In addition, we host one of their bi-annual meetings every other year; we hosted the first one in June 2016. In addition, under partnership and sponsorship of the Society, we host an annual lecture at the Center. This academic year, the lecture will be held in May 2020.

 CMS / Rumsey Paper Award

  • The student will receive $1,000.  We will either pay for or reimburse travel costs to the northern and southern speaker events.
  • One year membership in the California Map Society.
  • Presentation at the northern and southern chapters of the California Map Society.
  • Publication of the paper and associated maps under the sponsorship of the Map Center. 

Who is Eligible

The competition is open to any undergraduate or graduate student (masters, PhD) currently enrolled in a California educational institute that awards degrees. 

Submission Deadline: 9 AM PST on March 2, 2020

Requirements for the Paper

Papers are to be submitted on any topic but must include maps not simply as locational guides, but as an integral part of the research.  The researcher must include a map or maps from the David Rumsey Map Center and/or Stanford University Libraries, which may be accessed in person on the Stanford University campus or digitally through the following access points, including:

Submission Requirements

  • The paper must be in English and should be no longer than 5,000 words of text, not including the references and bibliography. There are no exceptions to this requirement.  
  • Papers cannot have been previously published in any publication.   We will accept papers written for a class assignment or as part of research symposia.
  • The paper must be submitted in either MS-Word or via a PDF. 

Judging and Notification

Papers will be judged on the quality of the research, the writing, and the effective use of maps in the presentation.  The judges have been chosen from leading academics and collectors in the field of cartography.  Each judge will independently read the papers and then confer and agree upon the winner.  The winner will be notified the week of April 6, 2020.

Sample Award Winning Essay

Charlotte Helena Thun-Hohenstein was our first award winner in the 2016-17. The essay is here. 

Award and Paper Presentation

The award will be presented to the winner at Stanford University’s David Rumsey Map Center and at one or two locations to be chosen in southern California. The presentations will occur in May 2020.


 The link below will allow you to complete the necessary form and attach the essay files. Because you are uploading a file, it requires you to log into your gmail account. Please make a gmail account if you do not have one already.

Submit Here

Contact Information: Any questions should be addressed via e-mail to