Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Fall 2014
Herbert Gilder ’56 is well-known at the Library of Congress, especially in the Geography and Map Reading Room. For the past 11 years, he has volunteered there, organizing and preparing metadata for more than 100 donated collections containing over 15,000 items.
While Gilder has donated his time to many organizations in the Washington, D.C. area, including six Smithsonian museums, the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the White House, he has a special love for maps and their histories.
“I think three of the more interesting collections are, one, the 1990 Mental Sketch Maps of Thomas Saarinen, compiled from college freshmen globally. It reveals their geographic knowledge of the world,” Gilder said. “Two, the collection of General Tasker Howard Bliss, a member of President Woodrow Wilson’s staff at the Paris Peace Conference, contains maps and charts used for determining country boundaries after World War I.”
“And three, the collection of Colonel Dastagir S. Wardak, a former member of the Soviet General Staff, which includes maps and charts used in Soviet war gaming for the overrun of Western Europe in the 1970s,” he continued. “It has pleased me to make these, and other, collections available to researchers.”
Prior to his retirement he managed consumer product companies in this country and the United Kingdom. Gilder, a generous supporter of Union College and member of its Terrace Council and Ramee Circle Society, looks forward to continuing his efforts in the Geography and Map Reading Room. It is work he’s valued for.
“We are honored to have Mr. Gilder as a volunteer,” Geography and Map Chief Ralph Ehrenberg said in a recent Philip Lee Phillips Map Society bulletin. “His dedication and hard work is appreciated by everyone.”