Web Resources of General Interest Concerning Map History
The starting point for any inquiry into map history ~ images, events, exhibitions, literature, commentary, research, people ~ is Tony Campbell's Map History Gateway.
The definitive overview of the history of maps is the multi-volume The History of Cartography, prepared by the History of Cartography Project at the University of Wisconsin and published by the University of Chicago Press. Volumes One through Three are available for free, online.
To explore maps from OML's collections that have been digitized in high resolution, use Osgood, OML's map search interface.
Anyone interested in the mapping of the Americas should begin with the following general sites:
- The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress is progressively putting its truly extensive holdings online.
- David Rumsey is putting his extensive collection of nineteenth-century US-made maps (and many others) online in a site that sets the standard for the rest of the map history community to follow! To see the collection, click on the button for "Launch LUNA Browser"; your web browser needs to accept pop-ups.
- The John Carter Brown Library is digitizing all its maps concerning the Americas before 1820. Click on the link for "Luna Browser".
- Historic Map Works, a commercial company, specializes in land ownership maps and city directories from the nineteenth- and twentieth-century USA.
- The Harvard Map Collection is steadily imaging its wide-ranging collections (second in size only to those of the Library of Congress), accessible either through this site or through the university's library catalog "Hollis".
Two wonderful sites present the historical products of the two main US federal agencies:
- US Geological Survey's National Mapping Division has digitized its archive of topographical quadrangles. Reference should also be made to UNH's online collection of historical topographical quadrangles of New England.
- US NOAA's Library is progressively digitizing its archive of charts and surveys from the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, including many survey manuscripts.
Sites of particular relevance to the history of the mapping of New England include:
- the Maine Memory Network, coordinated by the Maine Historical Society, includes many images of early maps.
- the Massachusetts Historical Society has digitized a number of its maps.
These sites are merely the beginning. Most of the map collections in the great national libraries are in the process of putting their collections on line, including the British Library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and Harvard University's Map Collection. An extensive list of imagery websites is maintained by Tony Campbell at the Map History Gateway; there is no way this listing could be complete, but it is the most complete yet produced. If you know of a site that's not listed, please tell Tony!
Groups Interested in Map History
An academic society dedicated to map history was founded in 2011: the International Society for the History of the Map (ISHM). Members can subscribe to the primary journal, Imago Mundi, at a reduced rate!