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Historical Maps: Finding Maps

This Historical Maps guide contains information on how to find maps of various regions and periods throughout history and introduces you to tools to help you create visual representations of historical data using those maps.

Philadelphia (1802)




Philadelphia (1802). Map from the David Rumsey Collection

Varle, Charles P. To The Citizens Of Philadelphia This New Plan Of The City And Its Environs Is respectfully dedicated By the Editor. 1802. P.C. Varle Geographer & Enginr. Del. Scale: 1:18,000. "David Rumsey Map Collection." 1802. <;q:philadelphia;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=0&trs=67#>  (Accessed October 16, 2015).

Finding Maps in the Franklin Catalog

You can limit your results in the Franklin library catalog to the format Map/Atlas using the facets in the left-hand column.

Click to see call number ranges for browsing.



For more information about our collection policy and print collections, see Maps and Atlases in the Penn Libraries.

Major Collections

The Digital Public Library of America aggregates online collections from thousands of libraries, archives, and museums. To find maps, search the geography or topic of interest, and on the results page, click "maps" under the "By Subject" facet. 

The David Rumsey Map Collection is a searchable collection of over 59,000 maps and images. The collection's main strength is maps of North and South America, but other areas are well represented. Each map is cataloged by author, date, scale(if available), area mapped, publication information, among other categories. High quality JPEG images of the maps can also be downloaded from the site.

OldMapsOnline acts a searchable portal to other websites with maps. The maps only go back to 1000 CE, but they come from a large range of source websites. (Note: Not all maps are downloadable)

The Library of Congress' digitized map collection is organized into seven major categories. The maps can be browsed by depicted location, author, title, and subject. High resolution map images can be downloaded in either MrSID or JPEG2000 formats, both of which require separate applications to view.

The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection is a collection of maps, both historical and current, digitized at the University of Texas at Austin. As of May 21, 2015, there are 66,838 map images on the site.

The New York Public Library Digital Collections is a collection of images and documents held and digitized by the New York Public Library. A large number of historical maps and atlases can be found in the collections. Their main strength in maps/atlases is New York City and surrounding areas, but the rest of the United States and to a lesser degree the rest of the world is also represented.

To find a map of a specific place, search for the specific place [ex. (Boston) or (Italy). When the page loads, on the far left select "GENRE", click "More", then select "Maps" [You may have to search for "maps" in the "Fliter Genre by keyword search box"]

To find maps in the collection, click on the "Browse" drop down menu, then select "Items". When the page loads, on the far left select "GENRE", click "More", then select "Maps".

Digital Collections at Penn

Other Resources

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The Americas





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