Home → Links → Libraries and official institutions
Libraries and official institutions
The British Library Map Collections
The focal point of the British Library Map
Collections is the Map Library which provides access
to maps, atlases and globes of all parts of the world
dating back to the fifteenth century. It also acts as
a Library-wide advisory service for cartographic
materials dating back to the early medieval period.
Cartesius - Maps, plans, sketches and aerial imagery
The most beautiful plans, maps and aerial photographs of Belgium and Central Africa online. A unique cooperation by the National Geographic Institute, the Royal Library, the State Archives and the Royal Museum for Central Africa. The collection keeps expanding, have a look at it regularly.
The Walloon online cartographic library and gateway
The Geoportal is the Walloon geographical information website. Although its primary vocation is to disseminate this information to the greatest number of people, it also plays the role of relaying the activity of the Walloon geomatics community. Indeed, although it is managed by the Public Service of Wallonia, the Geoportal is in fact the result of the work of a multitude of contributors active in the field of geomatics in Wallonia. It offers, in mosaic, several old maps of the Walloon territory.
The Map Room houses the world's seventh largest
collection of maps. Well over one million sheet maps
and 20 000 atlases are available to readers. The
collections include early examples of cartography,
such as the fourteenth century Gough
Map, portolan charts, estate maps and many atlases.
Bibliothèque nationale de France - Département des Cartes et plans
The Département des Cartes et plans (Maps and Plans Department) of the BnF is an international centre of excellence in the field of cartographic and geographic information. It is rich in two centuries of collecting, reporting and welcoming the public. Dating from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, its collections of maps, plans, atlases and globes, books and periodicals come from French and foreign production. They meet the needs of researchers in their great diversity. The department also houses the collections of the Société de géographie: maps, prints and manuscripts, photographs.
Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) aka AfricaMuseum,
The Research Institute and particularly his
Department of History and General Scientific Services
has an important cartographic collection: some 3 000
maps of Africa from the sixteenth to the twentieth
century. The maps from the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries concern Congo during the colonial period.
ICA is the world authoritative body for cartography,
the discipline dealing with the conception,
production, dissemination and study of maps. Its
mission is to promote the discipline and profession
of cartography in an international context. Also
organizers of international cartographic conferences.
The Map & Geoinformation Curator Group is a non for profit union of individuals dealing with Map Librarianship, Map Curatorship, and Map Archiving, representing Map Libraries, Map Archives, Map Collections and relevant entities dealing with cartographic material of analogue and digital type. MAGIC is associated with the ICA Commission on Digital Technologies in Cartographic Heritage.
Kartenportal.CH is the specialist portal for maps from libraries and archives in Switzerland. The metacatalogue provided contains half a million maps from all over the world – from mediaeval manuscript maps to current printed ones. Find the maps to suit your needs quickly and simply using the map search. The site contains also a news blog about map history (with special focus on Switzerland).
The Ransom Center has only one notable collection of individual maps and globes: the Kraus Map Collection, representing nearly the entire contents of Catalogue 124: Monumenta Cartographica from the New York antiquarian dealer Hans P. Kraus. This 1969 catalogue featured a wide range of individual maps of Europe and America, a few atlases, and a group of manuscript letters by Abraham Ortelius. A supplement included a group of globes, including celestial and terrestrial globes by Vincenzo Coronelli and a 1541 Mercator globe.
The New York Public Library Digital Gallery provides
access to over 275 000 images digitized from primary
sources and printed rarities in the collections,
including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps,
vintage posters, rare prints and photographs,
illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more. The
map section contains hundreds of maps of North
America from the earliest printed portrayals to the
close of the nineteenth century; multiple versions
and editions allow for historical comparisons. All
maps can be looked at in detail and come with a
Highlights and behind-the-scenes view of the New York
Library Map Collection
Video that provides a behind-the-scenes snapshot of
the collection of The Lionel Pincus and Princess
Firyal Map Division of the New York Library, which is
the largest public library map collection in the
world. Established in 1898, the Map Division today
holds some 431,000 maps, 16,000 atlases and books
about cartography. The collection is international in
scope, and dates from the 16th century to the
present, with a focus on cities.
As one of the world's leading independent research
libraries, the Newberry Library's collection embraces
the history and literature of the civilizations of
Western Europe and the Americas from the Middle Ages
through World War I. For many fields, notably Chicago
history, genealogy and local history, cartography,
and printing, there are also rich sources for the
twentieth century. The collection numbers some 1.5
million books, five million manuscript pages, and
300 000 historic maps.
The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the
University of Georgia maintains a collection of more
than 800 historic maps spanning nearly 500 years,
from the sixteenth century through the early
twentieth century. The collection provides a graphic
resource upon which scholars can draw in
re-discovering the minds and movements of early
American explorers, revolutionary statesmen, cultural
figures and politicians represented by the library's
book and manuscript collections.
The largest map collection in Scotland with around
two million cartographic items. These include over
1.5 million sheet maps, 15 000 atlases, 100 000 maps
on microfilm and more than 250 000 digital maps. The
Library's holdings cover all parts of the world,
through some 700 years, from medieval manuscript maps
to current digital mapping. Over 4 000 high
resolution images of early maps of Scotland and
related texts can be consulted: maps of Scotland
(1560-1928), Pont's Maps of Scotland (1583-c.1596),
military maps of Scotland (eighteenth century);
Ordnance Survey town plans (1847-1895) and Blaeu's
Atlas of Scotland (1654). The Library also features a
Scottish Map Forum wich publishes a free newsletter
Cairt that can be downloaded.
University of Alberta, William C. Wonders Map Collection
The library owns over 550 .000 maps, from places all over the world. The oldest maps are 1493 Schedel Buda, from Nuremberg Chronicle, and 1556 Ramusio La Nuova Francia and Hochelaga. The most valuable item is Ortelius Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,1587.
Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique
The library owns a extensive collection of the Popp maps. Cartographer, designer, printer and publisher, Philip Christian Popp was born in Utrecht, February 10, 1805 and died in Bruges 3 March 1879. He designed the gigantic project to reproduce and disseminate all cadastral maps of the young Belgian kingdom with their records and matrices. Without subsidy, from 1842 to his death in 1879, he continued publishing its cadastral parcels Atlas of Belgium, better known under the name Popp Plans. Of the approximately 2500 municipalities existing before their merger, nearly 1800 were treated when death interrupted this work which earned Popp numerous scientific awards.
The Moll Collection is a commonly used name for the atlas, collected in the 1740s and 1750s by the German diplomat Bernhard Paul Moll. The collection includes, in accordance with the original concept of an atlas, graphical representations of cities and landscapes as well as their generalised schematic drawings — maps. On request of the owner it was also supplemented by a number of drawings representing mines and ancient monuments.
The choice to create a separate web-site for the Moll collection is due primarily to its unique and compact nature, which quite accurately reflects the composition of the collection designed by Bernhard Paul Moll himself in the mid-18th century and illustrates the nature of collecting at that time. In the current online library catalogue, this structure would have completely disappeared. Thanks to the digitisation of the entire file, including the manuscript catalogues, users may link Moll's original records with the maps and their individual parts in the future. The ambition of the site is not only to offer a service to a narrow circle of specialists, but to appeal to all people interested in cartographic production of the past centuries. Especially with regard to these visitors, the site will offer virtual exhibitions of landscape paintings and maps, accompanied by popular texts.
The collection is impressive in both range and depth. The Zentralbibliothek Zürich pursues an active purchasing policy and possess material dating from the sixteenth century to the present day. It has a comprehensive collection of material concerning the City of Zürich and its environs. Also in the 300 000 map sheets assortment: an extensive national and international collection with indigenous material from all continents well represented within the same time scale.
Mapire enables the user to navigate historical maps of the Habsburg empire using state-of-the art technologies including Google Maps, Google Earth and OpenStreetMap. The main goal is to create an international collaboration to make this content available to the world in a common interface using latest GIS features.
Military surveys - The current version of Mapire contains the first military survey (1764-1784) as well as the second military survey (1806-1869). Both of them is scaled 1 to 28 800 and covers the entire Habsburg empire. This magnificent archival content is world-wide unique in sense of antiqueness, resolution and artistical implementation. The 1:25 000 scale map sheets of the third military survey (1869-1887) cover the territory of the Hungarian Kingdom while the ones scaled 1 to 75 000 cover all the empire. It includes maps of the Austrian Netherlands (1764-1771).
Cadastral maps - Cadastral maps were made in all the territories of the Habsburg Empire during the 19th century. The survey was unified scale (1:2880), same geodetic system and same legend. We are continuously updating the content with Hungarian and Croatian map sheets.
Historical maps of Budapest - Historical maps of Budapest (capital of Hungary) are masterpieces of the map series representing the territory of Budapest. The surveys were carried out from 18th century to middle of 20th century with different, but detailed scale (1:720 to 1:5000), thus we can follow the changes and evolution of the city. The accuracy of georeferencing is 15-20 metres.
SHOM (Service hydrographique et océanographique de la marine)
SHOM, French heir to the oldest hydrographic service in the world founded in 1720, has been collecting, monitoring and archiving data on the coastline and marine environment since that time.
In 2016, as part of the ARCHIPEL (ARCHIves Patrimoniales En Ligne) project, SHOM has digitised 10 000 cartographic documents from its historical maritime and coastal archives worldwide.
This unpublished extract of 300 years of coastal and ocean history, archived by SHOM, is composed of around 3 300 nautical charts, the oldest dating from the end of the 18th century, and 6 700 hydrographic survey plans from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day.
In Rijksstudio, which can be found on the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam website, more than 700 000 objects have been released with high resolution images. Rijksstudio offers the possibility to create your own works of art based on works from the collection. As far as ancient cartography is concerned, hundreds of ancient maps from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century are freely available.
Mapoteca Digital (Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia)
The Mapoteca Digital is an ongoing project led by the National Library of Colombia, with the support of Razón Cartográfica, Red de historia de las geográficas y cartográficas de Colombia, for the collection, preservation, description, management and dissemination of the cartographic heritage related to Colombia, and which is dispersed at the regional, national and international level in both private collections and public institutions.
The Mapoteca Digital provides online access to maps of Colombia and neighboring countries since the sixteenth century, as well as maps of the rest of the world and the Americas since colonial times. The Mapoteca Digital is part of the Oldmapsonline.org project
The Perthes Collection came from the historical holdings of the Gotha-based Justus Perthes Verlag (Justus Perthes publishing house). It provides unique source material relating to the development of cartography and geography in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a result of the cohesion and interlinking of its holdings, the Collection documents the last phase of the age of discovery, during which the interior regions of the non-European continents and the polar regions were explored.
The Research Library, housed in Gotha’s Friedenstein Castle, holds a remarkable collection on early modern and modern cultural history. After Berlin and Munich and alongside the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel, it houses the most significant collection in Germany of historical sources from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. To these were added in 2003 the Perthes Collection Gotha from the holdings of the Justus Perthes Gotha press, established in 1785. It is considered one of the most significant cartographic collections worldwide.
The library holds, keeps, and catalogues these sources, which are part of a European cultural heritage. The library collection encompasses c. 700 000 prints, of which about 350 000 are early modern. To this are added c. 11 500 manuscript volumes containing a considerable collection of manuscripts, autographs, and literary remains pertaining, among other things, to the cultural history of early modern Protestantism, as well as a collection of some 3 500 oriental manuscripts – the third largest of its kind in Germany. Moreover, the library holds a remarkable collection of letters by German emigrants to America.
The Perthes collection with its collection of maps, cartographic library, and the press archives offers a unique collection in situ. The cartographic collection is comprised of c. 185 000 maps from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, produced by Perthes and other cartographic printers throughout the world.
The cartographic-geographic library holds 120 000 volumes, a genealogical-statistical book collection.
The press’ archive, with 800 linear metres of archival material, includes, inter alia, the transmission of the editing of Petermann’s Geographische Mitteilungen, a collection of the press’specimen copies, as well as 1 650 copper plates.
The maps, atlases and periodicals published by Perthes, most notably Stielers Handatlas (Stieler’s Hand-Atlas) and Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen (Petermann’s Geographical Observations), shaped the scientific view of the earth until well into the 20th century and popularised it with the general public.
Publications concerned with genealogical statistics, including the Almanach de Gotha (Gotha Almanac / Gothaischer Hofkalender (Gotha Court Calendar), the definitive biographical encyclopaedia of European nobility, constituted the second key area of the publisher’s profile.
The Perthes collection is housed in the Perthes-Forum close-by Friedenstein Castle.
Using funds provided by the Kulturstiftung der Länder (KSL) (Federal Cultural Foundation), the Perthes Collection was acquired by the Free State of Thuringia in 2003 and integrated into the Gotha Research Library.
Maps are powerful objects, created and used for many varied reasons. They can be works of art, a means of propaganda, reflections of power and status, or tools for navigation. They give you the chance to follow the footsteps of those who lived centuries ago and to view the structures that would have been visible to them at the time.
By some estimates as much as 80 per cent of information circulating in the world is related to geospatial location. To gain the most from that information you will probably need to know more about that place – where it is; what it is like; how it relates to other locations; how it has changed through time. The Map Department of Cambridge University Library with its 1.3 million maps and over 40 000 atlases and books on cartography can help you to answer these questions (and many more).
The printed and manuscript maps and atlases in the Map Department cover the whole world in a range of scales, from detailed topographic maps showing the lie of the land and the man-made features resting upon it, to world maps showing ocean currents or time zones. The maps were compiled for a variety of purposes – through propaganda to art and science – and show different types of information, like geology, climate, transport, streets and historical events. Items in the collection range in date from the fifteenth century to the present day and as well as being used to tell the history of a place, they can be studied in their own right as works of art, as reflections of the society in which they were made, as a means of understanding how such items were made and why.