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Maps and Atlases

Historical Maps

Coronado birds eye view

Table of Contents

Other Places to Look

Searching the HSU Library Catalog

For historical maps and atlases in the HSU Atlas and Map Collection check the HSU Library Catalog under the subjects geography-ancient-maps or historical geography-maps for world maps and atlases and [name of country, state, or region]-historical geography-maps for specific areas.

Internet Guides and Directories

Collections and Individual Atlases

  • 1895 U.S. Atlas (MIGenWeb) Reproduction of the 1895 Rand McNally Atlas of the World for the United States. For each state contains a state map, map for each county, and an "Index to City & Town Data."
  • AniMap Plus County Boundary Historical Atlas (Ettlinger) 1999 (Atlas G 1201 F7 A55 1999--cd-rom available on the Geospatial Computers near the HSU Atlas and Map Collection) Displays over 2,000 maps showing the changing county boundaries in the 48 adjacent states for every year from colonial times to the present. Also includes searchable databases containing more than 240,000 cities, towns, and other populated places, over 30,000 historical sites, and 100,000 cemetaries, all of which can be plotted on the maps. Enables users to locate historical towns which are not on current maps or which are now in a different county.
  • Atlas of American History (Jackson and Adams) 1978 (Atlas G 1201 S1 J3)
  • Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Newberry Library) Describes and maps every change in the boundaries of all United States counties from the early 1600s to 2000. Includes interactive map service and downloadable GIS data.
  • Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (Paullin) 1932, 1975 reprint (Atlas G 1201 S1 P3 1975 folio)
  • Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (Talbert) 2000 (Atlas folio G 1033 B3 2000) Recreates the entire world of the Greeks and Romans from the British Isles to North Africa and east to the Indian subcontinent on maps at standard scales of 1:500,000 and 1:1,000,000. Chronologically, the atlas spans archaic Greece to the Late Roman Empire. An accompanying Map-by-Map Directory on cd-rom provides information about every place or feature including period of occupation, the modern equivalents of ancient placenames, the modern country where located, and bibliographical references to relevant ancient testimony or modern studies.
  • Charts and Maps (National Maritime Museum) Contains images of more than 1000 sea charts and maps dating from the medieval period to the present day that have been selected from the 100,000 sheet collection of the National Maritime Musium in Great Britain.
  • David Rumsey Collection Contains more than 30,000 online map images The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented. Search by country, state/province, author, keyword or data field.
  • General Land Office (GLO) Survey Plats and Field Notes (US Bureau of Land Management)

    Survey plats and field notes are the official documents resulting from the survey of federal public domain lands by the US General Land Office. From an historical perspective survey plats and field notes give a picture of the land during its original settlement and are now used extensively by title companies, surveyors, historians, genealogists, biogeographers and other researchers. Survey plats in many instances are the first maps of an area and show the locations of rivers, early settlements, roads, forts, and trails as well as topographic features.

    The original purpose of the survey was to divide the vast public domain into salable-sized lots that could be sold to raise funds for the federal government and to encourage settlement of the public domain. Land title was transferred from the federal government to individuals through land patents. Survey work was done using the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) which divided the public domain into six-mile square townships and one-mile square sections. The PLSS was utilized in 30 states and resulted in 133,000 survey plats and 2.75 million pages of field notes that date from the 1820s.

    Surveyors first created field notes describing in detail each mile of line surveyed; monuments placed; terrain over which they passed; and nature of the soil, vegetation and timber, salt licks, and other items of economic interest. Survey plats are the graphic representation of the information contained in the field notes. They show the PLSS boundaries (e.g. section boundary lines) and some of the physical and cultural features found in the notes.

  • Historical Atlas (Shepherd) 1956 (Atlas G 1030 S4 1956) Maps from the 1923 edition are available online.
  • Historical Atlas of Canada (Harris) 1987-1990 (Atlas G 1116 S1 H58 1987)
  • Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century (White) Includes thematic maps on historical topics on a world base as well as historical maps emphasizing a specific region.
  • Historical Atlas of the United States (National Geographic Society) 1988 (Atlas G 1201 S1 N3 1988 folio)
  • Historical Atlas of the United States (Carnes) 2003 (Atlas G1201.S1 H5 2003)
  • Historical Map and Chart Collection (US NOAA. Office of Coast Survey) Contains over 20,000 maps and charts from the late 1700s to present day. The Collection includes some of the earliest US nautical charts, hydrographic surveys, topographic surveys, bathymetric maps, geodetic surveys, city plans and Civil War battle maps. Search by keyword, geographic area, type of map, date, or chart number.
  • Historical Map Archive (University of Alabama)
  • Historical Maps (Perry-Castaneda Map Library) Contains scanned images of copyright free historical maps organized by continent and region.
  • Map Collections: 1544-1999 (Library of Congress American Memory Project) Collection of over 10,000 digital maps organized into 7 major categories: Cities and Towns, Conservation and Environment, Discovery and Exploration, Immigration and Settlement, Military Battles and Campaigns, Transportation and Communication, General Maps.
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps - Starting in 1867 the Sanborn Map Company began the production of fire insurance maps that eventually covered 12,000 communities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These large scale maps, drawn at scales of 1"=50' and 1"=100', were created to assist fire insurance agents in determining the degree of risk associated with commercial, industrial, and residential property within a community. Shown on the maps are the "footprints" of individual buildings, including their dimensions, shape, height, location of doors and windows, building material, and uses; ethnicity of occupants (occasionally) and other property details and city improvements, including lot lines, street widths, fire hydrants, and other fire-fighting facilities. A key to map notations provided by the Sanborn Map Company is available.

    These maps frequently represent the most detailed information on historical urban land use and are used by scholars and professionals in history, geography, architecture, and environmental engineering. For additional background information on fire insurance maps see the following:

    • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (from Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress: A Checklist (Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division) 1981 (Docs LC 5.2:F51)
    • Introduction to the Sanborn Map Collection (from Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress: A Checklist (Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division) 1981 (Docs LC 5.2:F51)
    • Fire Insurance Maps: Their History and Applications (Oswald) 1997 (HG 9771 O89 1997)

    Paper Sanborn fire insurance maps are found in many libraries in the United States. In addition they are available for purchase from commerical vendors, with some libraries having purchsed all or parts of these sets. Libraries and other institutions across the United States have been digitizing Sanborn maps up through 1922. The following are sources list availability of print Sanborn maps:

    • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist (Library of Congress) Searchable database of Sanborn fire insurance maps housed in the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. The online checklist is based upon the Library's 1981 publication Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress and is continually updated to reflect new acquisitions. The online checklist also contains links to existing digital images from the collection and is updated as new images are added.
    • Union List of Sanborn and Other Fire Insurance Maps (Western Associaton of Map Libraries) Checklist of paper and microform maps held by libraries in the United States. Also includes links to online maps that are freely available.
  • The Times Atlas of World History (Barraclough) 1989 (Atlas G 1030 T54 1989)