Dr. Oscar I. Norwich’s collection of African maps is one of the more well-known private map collections. His collection consists of 316 maps from the 15th to the early 20th centuries, which he assembled over 40 years. Dr. Norwich wrote a comprehensive reference book on his set of maps titled Maps of Africa, An illustrated and annotated carto-bibliography which was published in 1983 — this was followed by a second edition: Norwich’s Maps of Africa published posthumously in 1997 by Terra Nova Press in Vermont and edited by Jeffrey Stone of the University of Aberdeen. Dr. Norwich also published two other books, A Johannesburg Album, in 1986 based on postcards of early Johannesburg and Maps of Southern Africa in 1993.
Oscar Norwich was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1910 and died there in 1994. He is survived by his wife Rose, and four children, each of whom took a keen interest in his collection. Norwich graduated with a medical degree in 1932 from the University of the Witwatersrand and obtained a fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, Scotland and was a practicing surgeon for most of his adult life.
He traveled far and wide to pursue significant historical information relating to his collection—and the substance of his annotations, scholarship, preservation and cataloging of his maps help provide us today with an unparalleled insight into five centuries of African history making him one of the foremost authorities on Maps of Africa.
The collection was purchased in 2002 in part with the support of the William R. and Yvonne E. Jacobson Africana Collections Program. Stanford University is privileged and proud to steward his collection. As its permanent home, the Norwich collection is placed within a wider body of antique maps and Africana already existing at Stanford University. Through its digital surrogates available in its entirety at the Image Gallery, the Norwich collection is available to students, historians and researchers throughout the world.