Primary Source Learning: The Places You’ll Go with Maps

The Library of Congress has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world and there are so many places you can visit with the Library of Congress’ fabulous digitized map collections. Take a look at the wide variety of maps you can explore in incredible detail and discover engaging primary source lessons and activities. Zoom in now!

Map Collections

  • American Revolution Maps & Charts of North America & the West Indies 1750-1789
    an important historical record of the mapping of North America and the Caribbean
  • Cities & Towns
    from individual buildings to panoramic views of large urban areas, these maps record the evolution of cities illustrating the development and nature of economic activities, educational and religious facilities, parks, street patterns and widths, and transportation systems
  • Civil War Maps
    battle, reconnaissance, sketch, and theater-of-war maps taken from diaries, scrapbooks, and manuscripts
  • Discovery and Exploration
    European discovery and exploration with both manuscripts and published maps, dating from the late 15th-17th century as well as 18th & 19th century maps reflecting the work of Lewis and Clark and subsequent continental interior explorers and surveyors
  • European Explorations and the Louisiana Purchase
    documents from maps to newspapers to cultural artifact that help understand the importance of the Louisiana Purchase and the diversity of cultures who became a part of the emerging nation at the time of the Louisiana Territory acquisition
  • General Maps
    maps that typically portray the physical environment and a variety of cultural elements for a geographic area larger than a city or town at a particular point in time but do not display a subject that is part of one of the thematic categories
  • Hotchkiss Map Collection
    cartographic items made by Confederate topographic engineer Major Jedediah Hotchkiss including detailed battle maps primarily of the Shenandoah Valley, several of which have annotations of various military officers; also includes maps made or used by Hotchkiss during his post-war years with information about railroads, minerals and mining, geology and history, most of which focus on Virginia and West Virginia
  • Mapping the National Parks
    maps dating from the 17th century to the present, reflecting early mapping of the areas that would become four National Parks, as well as the parks themselves
  • Maps of Liberia 1830-1870
    examples from the American Colonization Society (ACS), organized in 1817 to resettle free black Americans in West Africa showing early settlements in Liberia, indigenous political subdivisions, and some of the building lots that were assigned to settlers; also includes other 19th-century maps of Liberia
  • Military Battles and Campaigns
    campaigns of major military conflicts including troop movements, defensive structures and groundworks, roads to and from sites of military engagements, campsites, and local buildings, topography and vegetation; some were drawn on the battlefield while others were engraved and include annotations reflecting the history of the battle or campaign
  • Native American Spaces: Cartographic Resources at the Library of Congress
    themes include Indian Maps, Mapping, and Geographic KnowledgeIndian Lands, Village Sites, Tribal Range, Place Names, and Communication RoutesTreaty Boundaries and CessionsIndian TerritoryReservations and AllotmentsIndian WarsEthnography, Linguistics, Distribution, and ArcheologyHistorical Maps and AtlasesNatural Resources
  • Panoramic Maps
    U.S. and Canadian cities and towns during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; although not generally drawn to scale, they show street patterns, individual buildings, and major landscape features in perspective
  • Railroad Maps 1828-1900
    progress report surveys for individual lines, official government surveys, promotional maps, maps showing land grants and rights-of-way, and route guides published by commercial firms illustrating the growth of travel and settlement as well as the development of industry and agriculture in the United States
  • Rochambeau Map Collection
    cartographic items used by Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, when he was commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780-82) during the American Revolution covering much of eastern North America from 1717 to 1795
  • Sanborn Maps
    uniform series of large-scale maps, dating from 1867 to the present depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico  designed to assist fire insurance agents in determining the degree of hazard associated with a particular property; show the size, shape, and construction of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories as well as fire walls, locations of windows and doors, sprinkler systems, and types of roofs and indicate widths and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers
  • World War II Military Situation Maps
    starting with the D-Day Invasion, the maps give daily details on the military campaigns in Western Europe showing the progress of the Allied Forces as they push towards Germany from June 6, 1944 to July 26, 1945
  • World Digital Library Maps

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