View Full Version : Online Map Libraries (Real World Cartography)

07-03-2006, 08:46 AM
From time to time, I will collect all the finds listed in this thread and abstract them in this original post for easy reference.

David Rumsey Map Collection (http://www.davidrumsey.com/index.html)
The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 18,460 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North American and South American maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia, and Africa are also represented. Collection categories include antique atlas, globe, school geography, maritime chart, state, county, city, pocket, wall, childrens, and manuscript maps.

Perry-Casteneda Library Map Collection (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/map_sites/hist_sites.html)
Contains hundreds of links to other historical map websites. The collection is categorised by Continent.

Holy Land Maps - University of Florida (http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/maps/MAPHOLY03.HTML)
Lots of old maps of Judea/Palestine/Israel arranged in chronological order.

Antique Map Magazine - Mapforum.com (http://www.mapforum.com/01/magazine.htm)
An online Magazine with numerous articles about and examples of old maps.

Genmaps - Old and interesting maps of England, Scotland and Wales (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/index.html)
Categorised by Country and County and chronologically.

The National Maritime Museum (http://www.nmm.ac.uk/collections/explore/index.cfm/category/charts)
Old sea charts from around the world, categorised geographically. Also some continental maps.

Antique Atlas (http://www.antiqueatlas.com/)
An online antique map shop with low resolution images (clickable to higher resolutions) of maps categorised geographically.

Maps of the Past (http://www.historicmapsrestored.com/)
Another online store with old maps categorised by function, e.g. railroad, civil war, panoramic etc. Mostly maps of the USA but with an international section.

Historic Cities (http://historic-cities.huji.ac.il/)
Old maps of cities of the world. Searchable alphabetically.

Reinhold Berg Antique Map shop (http://www.bergbook.com/htdocs/mapindex.htm)
Organised by region, maps may be viewed in detail through zoomify.

Free Relief Layers from Google (http://www.maps-for-free.com/)
Uses the google maps engine to show a zoomable relief map of the world.

Solo mapas - Just maps (http://solomapas.blogspot.com/)
A collection of about one hundred and fifty maps in varying resolutions. Organised by region.

Great Buildings Collection (http://www.greatbuildings.com/gbc.html)
Overhead satellite images of famous buildings around the world. Searchable by Building name, architect and place.

Big Map Blog (http://www.bigmapblog.com/)
A collection of lots of old and unusual maps with an in-browser zoom facility so you can see the detail


01-11-2007, 05:23 PM
Good Map sources

05-08-2007, 08:35 AM
I found an excellent list of map links here:

Maps of Wales, England and Scotland. arranged by county and chronologically.

-Rob A>

05-08-2007, 08:53 AM
Sweet find, Rob! My first shot turned up a 16th century map of Wales! Hours of inspiration! Thanks.

05-08-2007, 10:17 AM
Good resource. Excellent find! Bookmarked.

06-26-2007, 08:40 AM
I was looking for something completely non-relevant to this site, when I came across the UK's National Maritime Museum. Specifically, the Charts and Maps (http://www.nmm.ac.uk/collections/explore/index.cfm/category/charts) section.

From their own description:

The National Maritime Museum collections contain more than 100,000 sea charts and maps dating from the medieval period to the present day. They document the results of exploration and discovery and show how techniques of navigation and surveying developed. Many were owned by naval officers and politicians and were used to plan and record the events which have become maritime history. The collections are not exclusively British and although they concentrate on charting the seas and coastlines, land maps are also included. Together they illustrate the work of the leading hydrographers and cartographers throughout the history of charting and mapmaking.

Just gorgeous...The only drawback is that some of the fancy on-line zoom things don't appear to work in firefox, though you can download most of the images....

-Rob A>

06-26-2007, 12:12 PM
The zoom features don't appear to be working in ie7 either so it may just be broken, or designed for safari only :shock:

09-16-2007, 08:42 PM
The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. (http://www.davidrumsey.com/) High quality images of thousands of beautiful maps, mostly from the 18th & 19th centuries.

09-20-2007, 12:23 PM
I stumbled on this DK site:


you have to pay to download the maps, but you can get inspired and borrow the styles for free!

I also found this image which has a very interesting style in which the legend is bigger than the map itself, but I think you could have a lot of fun with it.

10-16-2007, 07:21 AM
The Antique Atlas website (http://www.antique-atlas.co.uk/) is good for a visit if you're looking for reference styles.

Also have a look at Maps of the Past. (http://www.historicmapsrestored.com/)

The Cartographist
12-16-2007, 06:16 AM
Came across this this morning. Take it for what it's worth.


12-16-2007, 10:02 AM
Prominent on these old maps is a system of "thumb" lines which center at a compass rose, representing the distance between points.

Hee hee. Nice find, though.

12-17-2007, 12:14 PM
I do like the first Cellarius world map there.

-Rob A>

02-21-2008, 12:18 PM
These reference links were passed from the CC2 yahoo groups list - I checked them out, and yes, these are great cartographic resources...

http://oddens.geog.uu.nl/ (http://oddens.geog.uu.nl/)


The top is Odden's list of Cartographic resources, the second is on historic cities... 8)

Just thought these were worth passing on!

02-22-2008, 11:44 AM
Someone should gather all the links into one sticky for all these great sites... in fact, someone with a little more time could compile all the great links we've seen on here, the relevant ones to mapping of course.. just a thought..

**Perhaps even have it in an FAQ type of thing... if you can link directly to posts and threads, you can also put links in for some of the great tutorials here as well...


05-15-2008, 10:52 PM
I stumbled across a site selling prints of antique maps:


Some nice maps of China in there, but I haven't looked at anything else yet.

05-25-2008, 05:54 AM
Free Relief Layers for Google Maps (http://www.maps-for-free.com/). Great relief maps of the world. Several layers (waterbodies, labeling, lots of other stuff).


05-25-2008, 11:52 AM
Great resource! Repped!

05-25-2008, 01:47 PM
Really nice resouce! You can just get rid of the labels, zoom into a bit and make your own instant map.

05-31-2008, 10:53 AM
real Maps in JPG format with high quality resolution.


06-18-2008, 11:31 PM
I was looking up reference material on Chateau de Chenonceaux and Chateau de Fontainebleau because I wanted to use them as base images for some sketch up work to ultimately use as a brush when I found this:


This really gave me some insight into trees, farms, roofs, and general layouts. When I got to the Eiffel Tower I took a trip downstream (or was it upstream) to get some insight into riverbanks. By the way, why is it roofs and not rooves like it is with hoof/hooves?

Anywho, ciao 4 now

06-19-2008, 05:34 AM
In British English It's roofs - some dictionaries accept rooves as an alternative, but it does look and sound silly.

09-29-2008, 09:13 AM
I don't know if I should link this or not- it's the alt. history forum's blank map collection. If any of the other guys see this and object, I'll certainly take it down.

In the meanwhile: http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php/blank_map_directory

Also the basic resources (http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php/resources/resources) index has a lot of other links to map sites.

09-29-2008, 05:58 PM
Yum! Brilliant find, Ofaloaf!

01-06-2009, 06:01 PM
Digitised maps from the National and University Library of Iceland.

EDIT: English Link is in the top right corner.

Start Page (http://kort.bok.hi.is/index.php)
Map Page (http://kort.bok.hi.is/kort.php)

All antique maps of Iceland (older than 1900) that are in the collections of the National and University Library of Iceland and the Central Bank of Iceland have been converted to a digital format and are accessible here. A short historical description in Icelandic and English is available for most of the maps. They are based on the book Kortasaga Íslands (A history of cartography of Iceland) by Haraldur Sigurðsson.

01-07-2009, 01:23 AM
Those are cool Gorka, thanks.

04-22-2009, 01:23 PM
This is a very slick site and they seem to be digitizing a lot of documents (not just maps) from all over the world.


The map viewing interface is all fancy but the maps are really good and well organized. You can download them as tifs.

Its well worth a look.

Here's a selection of just maps.



Steel General
04-22-2009, 02:28 PM
By the way, why is it roofs and not rooves like it is with hoof/hooves?

Anywho, ciao 4 now

Because English, be it American or British, it one of the most stupid and contradictory languages ever developed. :D

04-22-2009, 04:45 PM
Because English, be it American or British, it one of the most stupid and contradictory languages ever developed. :D

Of all of the other more logical and easy languages in the world we could have chosen, as a 'world language' we got English. History can be cruel. Reminds me of Geoge Bernard Shaw's fish which he said should be spelled 'ghoti' "gh" as in "cough", "o" as in "women", "ti" as in "nation".

joão paulo
04-24-2009, 02:44 PM
I hate this language, has many TH ¬¬
the same with the Portuguese, for example: In Portugal queue is said "Bicha", but in Brazil we say "fila" because here "Bicha" means homosexual.

04-24-2009, 03:41 PM
lol! Don't get me started on the British English and American English versions of Fag and Rubber!

04-24-2009, 04:29 PM
lol! Don't get me started on the British English and American English versions of Fag and Rubber!

And what pray tell is wrong with having a ciggy while wearing your wellies....

providing the boots aren't the ONLY thing you are wearing ;)

04-24-2009, 06:04 PM
That must be a canadian thing! Over here, a rubber is a US eraser!

Wellies are wellies!

12-26-2009, 01:17 PM
Here is something I found today, I didn't see it up in this thread. (as far as I can tell)

The Old Map Gallery (http://www.oldmapgallery.com)

*If someone has already posted this please disregard and delete*

10-19-2010, 02:41 PM

Apparently the library of the university of texas has a ton of real world maps on file. I thought I'd share the link!

I also thought this thread could be a place to share links of library databases of maps, as I'm sure UT isn't the only Uni with a backlog like this. So share what you've got, or point towards othe threads on the same topic.

10-20-2010, 09:01 AM
Hi Slipguard,

This thread is the place to share library database links...I've moved your post here.

Thanks for the link!

11-05-2010, 03:24 PM
I don't think that this link was mentioned before in this thread, but the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. website (http://www.raremaps.com/) has many old maps. On the homepage it says that there are more than 10,000 15th-19th century maps.

There is also a site (http://bigthink.com/blogs/strange-maps) that is full of cartographic curiosities--strange real life maps.

12-25-2010, 11:52 AM
Here are beautiful maps of Belgium in 1777. The site is in french, but you only have to select a box on the map, and then on the blue link in "résultats" in the above part of the page.
It is not possible to download the map themselves, but only to view them (unless you want to pay 40 euros for a single map...).


06-16-2011, 04:18 AM
This online magazine a lot of examples of this style:


07-10-2011, 08:12 PM
NOAA have some DEMs. (Digital Elevation Models). Notably ETOPO1, topography and bathymetry with a resolution of about 1.5 km, available as a nice shaded relief map as well as a DEM. http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/bathymetry/relief.html

This website http://desktopgisbook.com/data has shapefiles for national borders (not up-to-date with South Sudan mind), and locations of 606 major cities worldwide.

10-11-2011, 04:20 AM

A dealer of maps of antiquity I just discovered while using StumbleUpon. My first thought was the guild.

I hope you enjoy.

10-12-2011, 03:22 PM
Thanks for sharing!

-Rob A>

01-28-2012, 03:02 PM
Last April I started a site called the BIG Map Blog (http://www.bigmapblog.com/).

While working on another project I had occasion to spend long hours doing archival research. During this research I found literally thousands of awesome maps that I saved for personal interest/use (I am a lover of maps and a cartographer by academic training). At some point I got real jazzed on the idea of releasing them to the public.

Most map blogs (and there are several amazing ones) will display somewhat large maps, but they're never as large as I'd like; and it's very rare that they'll provide the full-res file. The Big Map Blog – being designed as a tool for the dissemination and use of these old public-domain maps – is proudly transparent in providing files at their highest resolution.

New maps are posted every weekday. You can get updates via twitter (http://www.twitter.com/BigMapBlog/) or you can just subscribe to the RSS feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/BigMapBlog) if you'd like.

How long am I planning on updating? Well, I have around a thousand optimized maps ready to go, so, possibly "for forever". The queue is stacked with new content until April of 2016 at the moment.

I've been real excited to see all of the maps that the Cartographers' Guild's members have been making; while I'm not personally all that familiar with the fantasy mapping idiom, I am nonetheless a huge fan of well-made maps; and this site has introduced me to a huge number of them. Keep up the good work.

02-01-2012, 05:10 PM
Nice site BigMap, lot of inspiration to get from all the sources mentioned in the thread. Thank you all

11-25-2012, 07:34 AM
Historical maps of Reykjavik (Iceland) (http://www.reykjavik.is/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-3546/5704_view-4515/) 1834 - 1990. Sorry that the text is all in Icelandic, but the jpgs are clear to see on the page and the metadata is understandable.

06-04-2013, 05:46 PM
Historical Map Archive (http://alabamamaps.ua.edu/historicalmaps/)
This site is hosted by University of Alabama, they have quite a collection of Historical Maps there, and not just of Alabama.

10-11-2013, 06:56 AM
ther is a website from the Marciana National Library in Venice, Italy, that offers the possibility of viewing part of the map collection of this ancient institution (the book collection dates back to the first donation made by Francesco Petrarca, the author of the Decameron, in 1362).

The site is awful enough: Geoweb (http://geoweb.venezia.sbn.it/cms/en/)
The difficult part is to find whar you are looking for: the best way to throw away the s****y interactive map, and use a good old textual search (look left for "online catalog").
Images comes, however, with a watermark, but it offers scans of big size.
Worth taking a look: it is a huge collection (in fact, the site allows you to search not only on the cartographic collection, but also the ancient prints)

03-26-2014, 05:21 AM
Retronaut have a good collection of old maps here:

Maps Before Maps | Retronaut (http://www.retronaut.com/2012/10/maps-before-maps/)

03-30-2014, 07:10 PM
Digitised Medieval Manuscript Maps

Digitized Medieval Manuscripts Maps (DMMmaps) (http://digitizedmedievalmanuscripts.org/)

04-01-2014, 04:33 AM
The New York Public Library has put on a load of maps, hi res and free to use

New York Public Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Download and Use - Open Culture (http://www.openculture.com/2014/03/new-york-public-library-puts-20000-hi-res-maps-online.html)

Milan Neddich
11-20-2014, 09:26 AM
NASA has some pretty cool maps and sattelite images.
Im finding them fairly useful for something im trying to do, at least.

04-12-2015, 03:19 PM
Hadn't noticed this thread before, but I thought I'd add a link.

Scotland's National Library has a bunch of online maps here:


They have a fantastic map of St. Andrews (of golf fame) which makes me smile so much every time I look at it ...


A couple of those towers are of skyscraper proportions compared to the rest of the buildings!

07-19-2015, 03:51 AM

09-06-2015, 08:09 AM
Saw this on Reddit and not sure if it's been posted here already, but the University of Chicago has made the first three volumes of 'The History of Cartography' available for free in PDF format. There are some fantastic old maps here! Link below:


09-10-2015, 04:18 AM
Hiya guys I posted this in another area of the forum not knowing that this area existed. I hope some of its of use (apologies for any entries you guys already have).

The following is just a collection of various links that come to mind, but I'm sure there are many many others that could be added as well. Sorry for not putting them in any great order, they are really just in the order I thought of them in...

My library (Cambridge University Library) has for example digitised some very rare proof sheets that John Speed composed before his first edition was compiled. You can view these as part of the digital library (http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/) here:


Beyond that you may be interested in both the British Libraries digital collection of fully geo-referanced maps (you can even have a go at geo-referencing some yourself) here:


This link also takes you to the wider lists of digital map the BL has to offer:


NLS (National Library of Scotland) also have an vast collection of maps surrounding the hugely influential OS (Ordnance Survey) era of British mapping. You can view those here:


Moving on to other sources there is the US Library of Congress map collection:


The Bibliothèque nationale de France and their collection:


Those of you more interested in things like the early treatise concerning cartography may be interested in The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes, an Arabic text, which you can view here:


Then you can enter the age of sale and exploration and view various Caribbean maps printed since the early 16th century, these maps are put on show by Caribmap and you can view them here:


CartoMundi is a collaborative project producing a union catalogue of maps and plans of all parts of the world though originally concentrating on Mediterranean countries.You can view those here:


Cartoteca Digital also have a wide collection of maps showing Catalonia, Spain and other parts of the world. You can view those here:


Moving back to my home country (England) Cheshire council have scanned a great many maps including early early tithe maps which you can view here:


The county of Devon has also been digitised, as shown by these maps:


Then we have more private entities like the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, which consists of a great many early maps, viewable here:


The Dudley Knox Library is a useful source for redirecting you to various forms of military mapping, which you can view here:


If your more interested in things like genealogical searches (and your English) vai the cartographic medium then mapping tools like those offered by Family Search may be useful:


If you want to look at an example of how an old map can be re-rendered in a digital format and used as a result Faden's Map of Norfolk may be of some use to you:


I know some of you like to make board game maps, well how about looking at some early examples of various early game boards:


Another useful source for viewing British mapping can be seen via GenMaps, viewable here:


Going back to America you can view the Geologic Atlas of the United States, published by USGS between 1894 and 1945 and now available via Texus A&M University here:


GeoWeb is a collection of about 29,000 cartographic and graphic images, with bibliographical details, available either in low resolution or high resolution with a digital watermark from the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice. You can view it here:


You may also want to view a zoomable, panable digital version of the Gough Map - which is believed to date from around 1360 here:


Ever heard of the Mappa Mundi? Well take a look at this digital view of Herefords prize map:


Historic Cities is a useful collection letting you look at the maps, literature, documents, books and other relevant material concerning the past, present and future of historic cities. View it here:


The Historic Counties Trust has put together a digital archive of the borders of the historic counties of the United Kingdom at a scale of 1:100000. This includes a downloadable file containing all boundary data. [Note that county borders have changed over time]. View it here:


Holy Land Maps is, unsurprisingly a collection of the Holy Land from the Eran Laor Collection. View it here:


And finally the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in Norwich has some beautiful Japanese maps that may be of interest to some of you: