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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Five Collections of Historical Maps

As I mentioned in my previous post, reading this new BBC article about the rediscovery of the first 3D map in Europe prompted me to look through my archives for collections of historical maps. Here are some collections of historical maps that I've featured in the past and used in my classroom and or in Teaching History With Technology workshops over the years. 

The King's Topographical Collection hosted on the Flick Commons contains more than 17,000 historical maps and images related to maps. The King's Topographical Collection is comprised of maps and drawings produced between 1500 and 1824. You can browse through, view, and download all of the maps and drawings in the collection. Unfortunately, the ability to search within the collection on Flickr is limited to just using "control+F" to search for words on the displayed page. When you do find something you like, click the download button on the image to save it in resolution of your choice. 

Maps of Cities, hosted by the Library of Congress is one of two sets of historic maps available through the Free to Use and Reuse collections on the LOC's website. The other set of maps is called Discovery and Exploration. Both the Maps of Cities and the Discovery and Exploration collections contain about two dozen historic maps that you can download and reuse for free in any classroom project. All of the maps can be downloaded as JPEG files (three sizes available) and as GIFs.

topoView is a good place to find historical maps. topoView is a USGS website that provides historical maps dating back to 1880. You can download the maps in variety of file formats including JPG and KMZ. In the following video I demonstrate how to find and download historical maps on the topoView website.


LOC's online historical map collection, different from the use & re-use collection listed above, has nearly 38,000 items for visitors to view. Many of the maps are in the public domain or have Creative Commons licenses. You can browse and search for maps in the collection according to date, location, subject, language, collection, and contributor.

Even though it hasn't been updated in a decade, Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse's collection of more than 5,000 historical maps is still worth noting. The maps are licensed for free download and reuse by teachers and students. The collection is organized by continent and country. The US category is further broken down and organized by state and by historical theme.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that regularly steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin , 711Web, and Today Headline.