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Places to See Maps

There are an incredible number of places around the world, both physical and digital, to view maps covering the entire history of cartography. There are two key websites that provide the long listings of the many physical locations to visit, with their web addresses provided below. With some of the greatest exhibits and collections of maps in the world in Washington, D.C., local WMS members have written a detailed and informative compilation of what to see and where to go. Additionally, from your computer or your device, there are a vast number of sites around the globe that showcase collections, many of which are listed in this guide.


Online Guide To U.S. Map Collections is a directory (featuring a map!) of map collections, big and small, across the country. Visit Online Guide to U.S. Map Collections (

For a global perspective, see a listing of current map Exhibitions and map meetings around the world at Cartography - Calendar of Meetings and Exhibitions (, a constantly updated listing, maintained by Washington Map Society member John Docktor. Map aficionados should refer to that website before commencing any travels in hope of seeing maps during the journey.


Below are listed locations in the Washington, D.C. region that have maps on display, and locations where researchers can visit to do specialized research. Some of the research centers have materials available at their websites for viewing and download. A more complete list of libraries, archives, and organizations in the DC area that hold maps can be found in Ralph E. Ehrenberg’s, Scholars’ Guide to Washington, D. C., Cartography and Remote Sensing Imagery (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, no. 12) (Smithsonian Institution, 1987, 1991), 383 pp. Although somewhat dated, Ehrenberg’s Guide still provides a useful introduction to the region’s extensive holdings of historic maps and charts. It can be seen at over 250 libraries around the world and may also be purchased online.


Exploring the Early Americas is an ongoing rotating exhibition featuring the 1507 Waldseemüller "World Map," the first map to use the name America; and rotating items from the Jay I. Kislak Collection, which includes rare books, manuscripts, historic documents, maps and art of the Americas. Also on display is Waldseemüller's 1516 "Carta Marina" or Navigators' Chart; and the Schöner Sammelbund, a portfolio that contained two world maps and other cartographic materials. Northwest Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, 10 First Street SE, Washington DC 20540. Check weblink for current hours. Highlights are online here.

Mapping a Growing Nation: From Independence to Statehood. This ongoing exhibition features Abel Buell’s Map of the United States, 1784, the first map of the newly independent United States that was compiled, printed, and published in America by an American. There are also four early maps of North America by John Mitchell, Carington Bowles, Thomas Hutchins and William Faden, which were created from 1755 to 1778, and a 1784 map of the United States by William McMurray, which was published nine months after Buell’s map. Great Hall, North Gallery, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, 10 First Street SE, Washington DC 20540. Check weblink for current hours.

Treasures from the Albert H. Small Collection. In 2011, Albert H. Small donated to George Washington University his collection of 1,000 maps and prints, rare letters, photographs, and drawings that document the history of Washington, D.C. This rotating exhibition presents highlights of the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, including Mr. Small's first acquisition and other items that explore what motivates individuals to collect. The George Washington University Museum/The Textile Museum, 701 21st Street, NW, Washington DC 20052. Check weblink for current hours.


The Geography and Map (G&M) Division Reading Room, Library of Congress. As noted on their website they have “custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5 million maps, 100,000 atlases, 8,000 reference works, over 5000 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, over 130,000 microfiche/film, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats.” Reading Room staff can pull any maps you ask to see. There is no exhibit of maps, but come ready to ask for your favorites, or ready to do some serious research. Many maps are downloadable from G&M’s website. Basement, James Madison Building, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington DC 20540. Check weblink for current hours.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds five million maps, charts and plans as well as some seven million aerial photographs in its cartographic and architectural archives, College Park, Maryland facility. As NARA serves as the official archives for the U. S. Federal Government, its cartographic materials document the actions and activities of its civilian agencies and military services from the American Revolution to the present time. A large percentage of these maps and charts are unique – in manuscript or annotated form. Additional maps are scattered among some 400 record groups that comprise the textual holdings of NARA. Cartographic Research Room, 3rd Floor, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park MD 20740. Check weblink for current hours.

The Kiplinger Research Library of the DC History Center has a large collection of maps of the city, including an extensive collection of real estate atlases that patrons can browse. By appointment only. 801 K Street NW at Mount Vernon Square, Washington DC 20001. Check weblink for more information.

The DC Public Library, Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library, has a Washingtoniana Collection which contains an array of resources and materials about the local community from the late 18th century to the present. The Washingtoniana Map Collection consists of more than 8,000 print, microfilm and microfiche maps from 1612 to the present. These include real estate atlases, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, and many others. The collection focuses on the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The Print Map Inventory is an inventory of print maps only and does not include maps on microfilm, microfiche, or real estate atlases. Where available, maps are linked to their digital versions on DigDC which includes City & Regional maps as well as Real Estate Plat Books. 901 G Street NW, Washington DC 20001. Check weblink for more information.

The Society of the Cincinnati has more than three hundred 18th-century maps, battle plans and atlases in its collections. The Society of the Cincinnati Library is located in the Harold Leonard Stuart Gallery on the lower floor of the Society's headquarters, Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008. For appointments, phone (202) 785-2040, extension 424. Check weblink for hours of operation.

The University of Maryland, Hornbake Library includes a Maryland Map Collection with more than 2500 maps depicting Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay from 1590 to the present. The website includes a link to their digital collection; maps in print may be seen in the Maryland Room located in the Hornbake Library. 4130 Campus Drive, College Park, MD 20740. Check weblink for hours of operation.

The Maryland State Archives (Annapolis MD). Numerous map collections ( are at the Archives; of special note is the Russell Morrison Huntingfield Map Collection – click here. The map collection in the Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse State Archives Building, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis MD 21401. Check weblink for hours of operation.

The Library of Virginia (Richmond, VA). Focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia. Of special note is the Alan M. Voorhees Collection of maps charts and atlases. 800 East Broad Street, Richmond VA 23219. Check weblink for hours of operation.


Library of Congress (Geography and Map Division) 

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Coast Survey's Historical Map & Chart Collection 

David Rumsey Map Collection 

Newberry Library 

American Geographical Society, University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee American Geographical Society Library - UWM Libraries

Osher Map Library, University of Southern Maine 

Boston Public Library, Leventhal Map Collection 

John Carter Brown Map Collections 

Brown University John Carter Brown Library : Free Texts : Free Download, Borrow and Streaming : Internet Archive

The Johnson U.S. Map Project by Ira Lourie Johnson 

Harvard University

British Library

Realms of Gold: A Catalogue of Maps in the Library of the American Philosophical Society

Oxford University’s Bodleian Library 

National Maritime Museum Collections Online: Charts & Maps from the Royal Museum, Greenwich

Afriterra: The Cartographic Free Library original rare maps of Africa

Historic Cities maps, literature and various other documents pertaining to its topic.

Online Exhibitions - Linda Hall Library including ones about celestial maps

Featured Exhibits ( various collections and presentations


Alabama Maps and Blueprints Collection - Alabama Department of Archives and History, Alabama State Archives

Arizona Maps Online | Arizona State Library (, Arizona State Archives

Maps Collection - CA History Room - California State Library, California State Archives

Connecticut Digital Archive | Connect. Preserve. Share (, Connecticut State Archives

Historic Maps - Delaware Public Archives - State of Delaware, Delaware State Archives

Maps - Division of Library and Information Services - Florida Department of State (, Florida State Archives

Colonial Plats and Warrants - Georgia's Virtual Vault (, Georgia State Archives

District Plats of Survey - Georgia's Virtual Vault (, Georgia State Archives

Headright and Bounty Plats - Georgia's Virtual Vault (, Georgia State Archives

Historic Maps - Georgia's Virtual Vault (, Georgia State Archives

Maps (, Illinois State Archives, Iowa State Archives, Kansas State Archives - Kentucky Historical Society, Louisiana State Archives, Maine State Archives, Maryland State Archives & Massachusetts land records and town plans Michigan State Archives Mississippi Department of Archives and History Mapping Montana and the West North Carolina State Archives Maps Ohio Historic Maps & Atlases Pennsylvania State Archives Rhode Island Maps and Plans South Dakota Digital Archives, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Texas State Archives Map Collection, Library of Virginia, Washington State Archives, West Virginia State Archives, Wisconsin Historical Society, Wyoming State Archives


Researchers interested in researching libraries outside of the United States can visit the following library and archive websites for assistance.

North American National Libraries, Library and Archives Canada, National Library of Mexico

United Kingdom Archives and Libraries, United Kingdom Archives Map Collections, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Ireland

Major European Libraries, Bibliothèque nationale de France, German National Library, National Library of Russia, National Library of Poland

Libraries of the Middle East, National Library of Israel, King Fahad National Library

For more information regarding researching the Middle East please visit this page,

Additional Libraries and Archives, National Library of Japan, National Library of Australia, African libraries

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