Origins are often difficult to specify precisely. From the bookkeeping perspective of its host institution, the University of Minnesota, the South Asia Historical Atlas Project was officially launched on 16 September 1964. But the seed from which the atlas grew was planted more than half a century earlier. It was in the summer of 1908, judging from the inscription on the flyleaf, that Charles Lesley Ames of Saint Paul, Minnesota, first read W.H. Fitchett's Tale of the Great Mutiny—which work, he wrote in 1953, "may reasonably be considered the starting point" of the Ames Library of South Asia. Ames's gift of his library to the University of Minne- sota in 1961, pursuant to a contract made with the Board of Regents in 1952, proved to be one of several decisive acts leading to the establishment of the atlas project.
Born on 29 June 1884, Ames received his early education in private and pub- lic schools in his native Minnesota and earned his B.A. from Harvard College in 1906. Thereafter he taught for a year at the Middlesex School in Concord, Massa- chusetts, and attended Harvard Law School in 1907–8. Returning to Minnesota in 1908, he went to work in the family business, the West Publishing Company. During World War I Ames saw duty in France as an artillery officer in the United States Army, rising to the rank of major. Resuming his career with West Publish- ing Company, he served as its treasurer from 1921 to 1923 and from 1924 to 1949, when he became vice-president, a position he held until his retirement in 1954. In 1921 Ames received his LL.B. from the Saint Paul College of Law. Al- though that degree marked the end of his formal education, he remained through- out his long lifetime an avid reader. Fitchett's account of the Indian Mutiny—or the "Revolt of 1857–59," to use the designation preferred in this atlas—was the first of many works he read on that subject. From what was at first perhaps no more than a young man's romantic fascination with the derring-do of another age and clime, Ames's interests broadened substantially over time. Yet the focus re- mained Indian, and history more than any other branch of knowledge continued to absorb him. He and Mrs. Linda B. Ames, whom he married in 1917, traveled widely. Their trips abroad afforded him ample opportunity to indulge his penchant for collecting—especially books on India. Strangely, however, he and Mrs. Ames did not set foot on the subcontinent until November 1949. That trip, lasting till May 1950, was followed by a briefer sojourn in India and Ceylon during a round- the-world tour in 1958. The Ames's travels in South Asia were extensive, ranging from Colombo to the Khyber Pass and from Karachi to Kathmandu, with visits to not a few in-between places little known to tourists. The Ames Library of South Asia, at first situated in West Saint Paul, was opened to the public in 1946. By the time of its transfer to the University on 29 June 1961, it comprised 80,000 items, including more than 25,000 bound volumes and some 700 maps, mostly old.
A major university's acquisition of a resource as rich as the Ames Library could scarcely fail to give rise to speculation on how it might best be used. Among those who considered that question were the late Jan Otto Marius Broek and Burton Stein, then professors of geography and history respectively at Minnesota. Broek, who retired in 1970, was a specialist on Southeast Asia with a keen interest in historical cartography. Stein, who remained actively involved in the Project from start to finish, notwithstanding his move to the University of Hawaii in 1966, spe- cialized in the ancient and medieval history of South India. Cognizant of Ames's own love of maps, Broek and Stein conceived the idea of creating a historical atlas of South Asia and set about laying the groundwork for such a project. Predictably, Ames immediately became an enthusiastic supporter of the idea, establishing a fund in 1962 for a graduate fellowship in the "historical cartography of South Asia." Further support was garnered from the newly established Committee on South Asian History of the American Historical Association, which in December 1962 declared the preparation of the proposed atlas to be a high-priority need within the field. Additional financial assistance was thereafter secured from the Louis and Maude Hill Family Foundation (now the Northwest Area Foundation) of Saint Paul, the University's Office of International Programs (itself funded mainly by the Ford Foundation), the University's small grants program, and funds made available for South Asian studies at Minnesota under the National Defense Education Act. Given assurance of funding for an initial period of atlas work, several staff appointments were negotiated in the spring and summer of 1964.
The writer, Joseph E. Schwartzberg, first learned of the proposed atlas in Feb- ruary 1964 through his colleague in the Department of South Asia Regional Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Holden Furber, the first chair- man of the Committee on South Asian History. Excited by the scholarly possi- bilities of such a work, he drafted for Furber a memorandum outlining the sorts of materials the atlas might well include. Furber conveyed those ideas—or their essence—to Stein, who reponded by inviting Schwartzberg to discuss the atlas with interested scholars at a meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in Wash- ington, D.C., the following month. That discussion led to the offer of a joint ap- pointment to the staff of the Department of Geography at Minnesota and to the post of atlas editor. Commitments at Pennsylvania, however, prevented Schwartz- berg from assuming his new duties before December. In the interim, two other appointments to the atlas staff were made, both effective in September: Brian J. Murton, a graduate student in geography at Minnesota, was awarded the previ- ously noted Ames Fellowship; Joel Andress, a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of California at Berkeley and an uncommonly skilled cartographer, accepted a full-time position as assistant editor.
Before joining the atlas project Schwartzberg had no great knowledge of South Asian history. He did, however, have an intense interest in the region dating from his first sojourn there in 1955–56, when he spent six months of a three-year round- the-world tour travelling throughout the area. On a second trip to India in 1959–60
Schwartzberg carried out the fieldwork for his Ph.D. at the University of Wiscon- sin, writing on a topic related to geographic aspects of economic development. His thesis was subsequently published as a monograph of the 1961 Census of India. A third sojourn in South Asia in 1962–63 was devoted mainly to research on the social and cultural geography of the North Indian Plain. Much of Schwartzberg's academic exposure to South Asian matters came from his contacts with the stim- ulating group of scholars assembled under the dean of American indologists, W. Norman Brown, in the Department of South Asia Regional Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was privileged to teach from 1960 to 1964. For several years, beginning in 1959, Schwartzberg maintained close contacts with the Office of the Registrar-General of India and, together with the late Dr. Phulrani Sengupta, prepared detailed outlines for a series of atlases to accompany the 1961 Census of India at both the national and the state levels. This experience was to prove highly useful for the present work.
The early phase of work at Minnesota was one of diffuse activity. An original map projection for the atlas was developed by Andress, and a set of base maps was prepared thereon. Research was done on a variety of substantive problems, relating mainly to pre- and protohistory and India's premodern overseas trade contacts, and a number of maps were prepared. In an effort at self-education, the editor worked on a large chronological chart that proved to be the portotype for two of the three charts inserted into the end cover of this atlas. Considerable at- tention was devoted to fund-raising, especially by Broek and Stein. As late as the spring of 1966 those efforts failed to bear fruit, and it then appeared that the Project was to come to a premature end in June of that year.
The atmosphere of dejection created by the impending demise of the atlas was dramatically altered in April, when the United States Office of Education an- nounced an award to the Project for eighteen months, subject to renewal for a second period of the same duration. Regrettably, however, shortly before the USOE announcement both Stein and Andress had accepted positions at other institutions. Broek and Murton were also scheduled to take temporary leaves, the former for a period of research in the Netherlands and the latter for a year's doc- toral field research, and Schwartzberg had accepted a summer teaching appoint- ment back at Pennsylvania. Under the circumstances, it was necessary to consider whether it was still feasible and desirable to proceed with the Project, since doing so would entail rebuilding a staff virtually from the beginning. As this volume makes evident, the answer was yes. It was agreed that, after Stein's departure, Broek would serve as project director and that Schwartzberg and Stein, the latter in absentia, would act as assistant directors of the work.