Recently libraries, archives, and museums around the globe featured some of their favorite maps and map-related records using #ArchivesYouAreHere.
Maps, atlases, pocket maps, maritime charts and other cartographic materials contain a wealth of information about places in New York State.
Here are some tips on how to find them:
Understanding what kinds of maps are available for the time period you’re interested in is a good place to start. Review the NYG&B Society’s Historical New York Maps webpage which provides an overview of the kinds of maps available and includes links to numerous map collections. Be sure to see if your county was once part of another county at the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.
Then consult the New York Public Library, Library of Congress, New York State Archives, Cornell University and New York Heritage map collections online to locate available maps of places in New York State.
One important resource for New York State maps, particularly urban and well settled places, are the late-19th century and early-20th century Sanborn Fire Protection Maps. More than 2,500 of these detailed maps are available online at the New York Public Library.
A significant collection of maps from the same period but covering more rural places can be found at the USGS Historical Map Viewer.
The David Rumsey Map Collection includes more than 150,000 maps, more the 100,000 of them available for free online. The collection has a focus on rare maps of North and South America from about 1550 through the present.
The National Archives cartographic and architectural holdings in College Park, Maryland features more than 15 million maps, charts, aerial photographs, architectural drawings, patents, and ship plans. One of the oldest items in the Cartographic holdings is the Polus Antarcticus atlas page. Published in the 1630s by Henricus Hondius, a Dutch cartographer and engraver, the map is one of the first to depict the South Pole area.
Map Searching Tips
- Start by identifying the year and place you are interested in and target your research there.
- Search using several name variations and spellings; be sure you’re using the name a place was called at the time.
- If you are looking for a name or phrase, put those terms in quotations for the search, example “New York.”
- Search results typically bring back all formats of records. Use filters where available to narrow your results and/or limit your search to items available online.
- If you have a questions about using a catalog, reach out to the reference staff listed in the contact section of the website.
Do you know about a significant map collection or resource related to New York State? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Illustration:Map of the City of Albany about 1770 by Robert Yates; 1856 Map of Waterford Village showing Champlain Canal Sidecut.