Cezar Buterez, Revisiting a National Cartographic Project. The Place Names from the ‘Plan director de tragere’ Map Series (1916–1959)
The ‘Plan Director de Tragere’ of the Army Geographic Service was the first large-scale national map collection covering all Romanian regions and also the first in the country's history to use a uniform projection system. Although the maps were initially graphically copied from earlier sources, they were continuously updated after 1921. The maps were used until 1959, when they were replaced by Soviet-inspired cartographic works based on the Gauss-Krüger coordinate system. The maps clearly had a military function, yet their rich content could be a valuable resource for the historical-geographical reconstruction of the natural and cultural landscape.
However, the ‘Plan Director de Tragere’ collection is proving particularly difficult to use due to its lengthy production, as its editions vary widely in style and content. As a result of the initiative of a geo-spatial.org project named eHarta to digitally preserve and share old cartographic material, many map sheets from different editions have been scanned, georeferenced, and made available via the web, increasing the general interest in the collection. A highlight of the ‘Plan Director de Tragere’ are the place names, for which the cartographers, officers of the Romanian Army, received specific instructions on how to collect and display them on the maps.
The present study aims to investigate the possibility of a systematic indexing of the “Plan Director de Tragere” as a resource for toponymic research. It draws new conclusions from previous projects that have used the maps and will highlight the problems that should be considered when turning to the collection as reference material. In addition, the article will also address the still unresolved issue of using the maps as a basis for a strongly needed Romanian digital gazetteer.