World history: Historical Maps and Aerial Photos

Historical Maps Resources

American Memory from the Library of Congress
American Memory is a gateway to the Library of Congress's digitized American historical materials, organized into more than 100 thematic collections. Original formats include manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and sheet music. Collections may be browsed individually, searched individually (including full-text searching for many written items), or searched across multiple collections. 1400s - present.

Ancient World Mapping Center
The Ancient World Mapping Center is an interdisciplinary research center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Center promotes cartography, historical geography, and geographic information science as essential disciplines within the field of ancient studies through innovative and collaborative research, teaching, and community outreach activities. The Center invites inquiries from scholars, authors, educators, students, and the general public engaged in (or contemplating) projects related to cartography, historical geography, and geographic information science in the context of ancient studies.

Broer Map Library
The Broer Map Library is a collection of historic maps, primarily from the 19th & 20th centuries. The collection includes various types of maps and subject matters.

CShapes is a new dataset that provides historical maps of state boundaries and capitals in the post-World War II period. The dataset is coded according to both the Correlates of War and the Gleditsch and Ward (1999) state lists, and is therefore compatible with a great number of existing databases in the discipline. Provided in a geographic data format, CShapes can be used directly with standard GIS software, allowing a wide range of spatial computations. In addition, we supply a CShapes package for the R statistical toolkit. This package enables researchers without GIS skills to perform various useful operations on the GIS maps.

David Rumsey Online Map Collection
​This historical map collection has over 28,000 maps and images 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.

FIMo Fire Insurance Maps Online
​Resource is restricted to current Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff.
Large-scale maps of towns and cities in Virginia and Washington, D.C., useful to urban specialists, social historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, local historians, planners, and environmentalists. Data contained includes the outline of each building; size, shape, and construction materials; functions of structures; locations of windows and doors; street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, and house and block numbers.  

National Map: Historical Topographic Map Collection
​Ongoing U.S. Geological Survey project to digitize all historical U.S. topographic maps. Search by geography and name of map. Must use GEOpdf software to download and print maps, available free of charge through the web site. To download, click on "download instructions" on the home page.

ProQuest Congressional
​ProQuest Congressional indexes citation to and provides to the U.S. Serial Set, including maps. 1789-present.

The maps shown through topoView are from the USGS’s Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC). The goal of this scanning, which started in 2011, is to provide a digital repository of USGS 1:250,000 scale and larger (more detailed) maps printed between 1884 (the inception of the topographic mapping program), and 2006. Currently, there are more than 178,000 maps in the HTMC. The NGP is accurately cataloging and creating metadata to accompany high-resolution, georeferenced digital files of each of these printed maps. At present, these maps are offered as GeoPDFs, through The National Map and the USGS Store. However, additional formats are now being offered for evaluation and use through topoView.

University of Alabama Historic Map Archive
​The Historical Map Archive is a digitized collection of selected map holdings from the University of Alabama Map Library, the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library, the Rucker Agee Collection of the Birmingham Public Library, the Geological Survey of Alabama, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.  Maps located in the Historical Map Archive may be used in publication only if permission is given by the map owner. This information can be found under the heading "Original Source" in the information for each map. Interested parties may contact us at , and we will be happy to provide the owner's contact information.

University of Texas, Perry-Castaneda Library (PCL) Historical Map Collection
A large​ collection of online historical maps for the world, regions, and the United States. Worldwide coverage, with a focus on United States and Texas maps. FAQ and links to maps at other sites.

Virginia Memory from the Library of Virginia
​Virginia Memory provides digitized collections of print materials, manuscripts, archival records, newspapers, photographs and ephemera, maps and atlases, rare books, and fine art that tell the history of the commonwealth and its people. Since the mid-1990s, the Library has digitized parts of the collections in an effort to make our materials more widely available to our online users. Here, you will find maps from the colonial period, state, county and city maps and nautical charts from the 18th and 19th century.

Virginia Tech Imagebase
Mostly historical Maps of the Virginia Tech Campus and surrounding counties/cities/towns


Historical Aerial Photos Resources

Google Earth/Pro
​Google spent many years collecting historical imagery — aerial and satellite photographs from government fly-overs and other sources — and has integrated it into Google Earth. By using a slider function, users can now travel back through time to see what places looked like decades ago. 

USGS Earth Explorer
U.S. government site that provides access to extensive current and historic aerial imagery. Registration required to download images.

Geospatial Data Consultant

Profile Photo
Ed Brooks
Room 3020 Newman Library

Virginia Tech
560 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, Va. 24061
(540) 231-9225

Geospatial Data Curator

Profile Photo
Imma Mwanja
Newman Library Room 3010
560 Drillfield Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061