Maps Subject Guide

Welcome to the Smithsonian Libraries Maps Subject Guide. This is a select list of freely-available resources for students and teachers to learn about maps. Please feel free to contact us at with suggestions for additional resources or with questions.  See links to specific guide categories below:

Smithsonian Resources

  • Smithsonian Map Collections Database: Coming Fall 2019! With over 30,000 digitized maps from the National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Libraries' collections, this database is searchable by title, keyword, subject, coordinates, or through an interactive map.
  • Natural History Library Library : Library which focuses on all aspects of natural history and science with over 120,000 items in its collection and more than 500 journal subscriptions.
  • Natural History Subject Guide: General subject guide for the Natural History Library featuring links to all Natural History libraries and related subject guides within the Smithsonian.
  • Databases for Science Research: List of science research databases from the Smithsonian Libraries. Many of the databases are free access, but others do require users to be onsite at a Smithsonian library or have Smithsonian network access.

Top Resources

  • David Rumsey Map Collection: Digitized collection of over 86,000 maps from the David Rumsey map collection. The site includes the ability to overlay historic maps on modern ones and to create shareable annotated maps.
  • Library of Congress Map Collections: Directory to the online map collections from the Library of Congress. Includes Civil War maps, National Park maps, and 19th C. Railroad maps among many others.
  • The National Map: Directory of map collections from the United State Geological Survey featuring topographic maps, both historic and current, and hydrography data.
  • Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection: Digitized collection of maps from the University of Texas, Austin featuring modern and historical maps from all over the world, as well a numerous links to other map related resources.
  • The British Library Maps Collections: Guide to the map collections housed at the British Library, many of which have some portion available digitally.

Other Map Resources

  • A Land Beyond the Stars: Website from Museo Galileo and the Library of Congress exploring Universalis Cosmographia, Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 map of the world. The first map featuring the name America, used in honor of Amerigo Vespucci.
  • Maps in American Culture-From Colonialism to Tourism: Online exhibition from the Digital Public Library of America focused on the impact of maps in U.S. history.
  • Crace Collection of Maps of London: Collection from the British Library of 1,200 maps showing the development of the city of London from 1570 to 1860.
  • Harvard Map Collection: Collection of maps from the Harvard Library featuring maps from as far back as 1493 and GIS and geospatial data.
  • Mapping History: Collection of interactive maps illustrating historical events and dynamics from around the world cartographically.
  • The Gulf/2000 Project Maps: Collection of cultural, historical, military, and political maps of the Gulf states created by Dr. Michael Izady for the Atlas of the Islamic World and Vicinity.
  • CIA Maps: Collection of maps of countries from around the world made available by the Library of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • BYU Map Collections: Collection of historic maps, gazetteers, and atlases from from around the world stored on The Internet Archive by Brighman Young University. 
  • Mappery: Crowd sourced collection of maps of the world upload by users featuring over 10,000 maps of 110 of the world's countries.


  • U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Federally-maintained database of U.S. geographic names including, but not limited to, populated places, landmarks, and municipal buildings.
  • Cartographic Glossary: List of words and definitions related to cartography and maps from the Univeristy of Texas, Austin.
  • Mapping Glossary: List of words and definitions related to surveyind and mapping from government of Queensland, Australia.
  • ESRI GIS Dictionary: Dictionary of terms related to Geographic Information Systems provided by the  Environmental Systems Research Institute.
  • History of Cartography: Series of free to access books from the University of Wisconsin research project about the history of maps and mapping.
  • Antique Maps Book: Archive of a digital version of the book Antique Maps by Carl Moreland and David Bannister. The book features information about maps, how they are made, and the people throughout history who have made them.