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Mapping and GIS Lessons for Poets, Historians, and Scientists: Historic Maps

CS-X Module created by Emily Fairey, Brooklyn College OER Developer

Map Databases

  • American Geographical Society Digital Map Collection: The American Geographical Society Library Digital Map Collection currently contains over 5000 maps, ranging from early maps of Asia to historical maps of Wisconsin and Milwaukee, and other American cities, states, and national parks. The digital collection is under continuing development.

  • American Memory - Maps Collections: The focus of Map Collections is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of the Library of Congress. These images were created from maps and atlases and, in general, are restricted to items that are not covered by copyright protection.

  • AMS and GSGS index maps: Hosted by the Earth Sciences and Map Library at UC Berkeley, includes index maps by the U.S. Army Map Service (AMS) and Great Britain. War Office. General Staff. Geographical Section (GSGS).

  • Atlas of Canada: Offers current topographic maps and data as well as topical and historical maps of Canada.

  • Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project: Displays historical county boundaries for all states.

  • Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States: Published in 1932, the atlas contains 700 maps. This digitized version is user-friendly and georectified.

  • Bodleian Library Map Room: Includes Maps on the Web, part of the Oxford Digital Library.

  • Broer Map Library - Homepage: The Broer Map Library is a large collection of government, commercial and other produced maps and atlases from the past three centuries.

  • Concharto: A geographic wiki.

  • ‚ÄčDavid Rumsey Map Collection Database: 18th and 19th century North and South America maps are the main feature of this site. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented.

  • Digital Map Indexes: Earth Sciences and Map Library at UC Berkeley hosts this site linking to every index map held in the Earth Sciences & Map Library's collection (with the exception of the Army Map Service (AMS) indexes) and air photo index maps.

  • Ethnographic Maps of the 19th Century: 19th-century ethnographic maps held by the University of Chicago Library's Map Collection.

  • Free Library of Philadelphia - Map Collection: Provides researchers and explorers with more than 130,000 current and historical maps, as well as other geographical resources, covering every part of the world. The collection is especially strong in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania maps and atlases.

  • Geologic Atlas of the United States: The Geologic Atlas of the United States is a set of 227 folios published by the U.S. Geological Survey between 1894 and 1945. Each folio includes both topographic and geologic maps for each quad represented in that folio, as well as description of the basic and economic geology of the area. The Geologic Atlas collection is maintained by Map and GIS Collections and Services within the TAMU Libraries.

  • Gough Map (Great Britain): The Gough Map is one of the earliest maps to show Britain in a geographically-recognizable form.

  • Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network: "This site contains thousands of old maps, property atlases, city directories, industrial site surveys, and other items documenting the history and development of the city from the 1600s through today." Access is through a resource browser and an interactive maps viewer.

  • Hargrett Historical Maps Database: "The Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia Libraries maintains a collection of more than 1,000 historic maps spanning nearly 500 years, from the sixteenth century through the early twentieth century. Although not limited to a single geographic subject, the collection heavily emphasizes Georgia as colony and state, along with its surrounding region. "

  • Historic Maps of Dutch Cartographers: Hosted at the University of Groningen.

  • Historical Map Archive: The Historical Map Archive is a digitized collection of selected map holdings from sources including the University of Alabama Map Library, the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library, the Rucker Agee Map Collection of the Birmingham Public Library, the Geological Survey of Alabama, Samford University Special Collections Library, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

  • Historical Maps and Charts: The Office of Coast Survey's Historical Map & Chart Collection is a collection of over 35,000 scanned images - covering offshore and onshore sites - includes some of the Nation's earliest nautical charts, bathymetric maps, city plans, and Civil War battlefield maps. Electronic copies are available, by free download, to the public.

  • Historical Topographic Map Collection (The National Map): The USGS is scanning all editions and all scales of topographic maps produced since the inception of the topographic mapping program in 1884. The exact number of maps is unknown at this time but 200,000 is the number currently being used until an accurate count can be made. All 50 States, Puerto Rico and Trust Territories are included in the effort to complete the collection. 

  • Images of early maps on the web: 2.1. Large general sites: Links to a variety of libraries with historical images online.

  • Index to Digital USGS 15 Minute Topographical Maps: A list by the Illinois State Library with links to scanned 15-minute topographic maps.

  • Locating London's Past: "... provides an intuitive GIS interface enabling researchers to map and visualize textual and artefactual data relating to seventeenth and eighteenth-century London against John Rocque’s 1746 map of London and the first accurate modern OS map."

  • Map Archive of New Jersey's Abandoned Mines: Digitized maps of abandoned mine site maps and papers, grouped by county.

  • Mapping NYC: The New York Public Library's Map Division uses a Google Earth to index its digitized NYC map collections, which include more than 2000 maps from 32 titles, organized chronologically and geographically (by borough), all published between 1852 and 1923. Requires installation of Google Earth.

  • Maps of Scotland - National Library of Scotland: Access high-resolution zoomable images of over 20,000 maps of Scotland.

  • Maryland Map Collection: The Maryland Map collection is a comprehensive collection of more than 2,500 maps depicting Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay, and the surrounding region from 1590 to the present. 

  • McCasland Digital Collection of Early Oklahoma and Indian Territory Maps: Included among the earliest documents produced by the United States Government are maps covering the geographic area of the United States as it expanded its boundaries to the west. 

  • National Atlas of the United States - 1870, 1880, 1890 & 1970: 1870, 1880, 1890, and 1970 atlas of the United States

  • New Jersey Historical Maps: Most of the map images on these webpages are from Rutgers Special Collections. Permission is granted solely to view these map images.

  • Maps: National Library of Australia: Scanned images from the National Library of Australia.

  • Old maps of Britain and Europe from A Vision of Britain through Time: Vision of Britain features scanned historical maps of the British Isles.

  • Old Maps Online: An easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world.

  • Pennsylvania County USGS Maps: USGenWeb Archives, United States Digital Map Library.