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Map & Atlas Collections

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Map Collection @ NU Library

The NU Library's Map Collection was established circa 1947 as an official depository for the US Army Map Service. Most maps in the library are centralized and housed in Main Library Lower Level, Room B190 as part of our Government & Geographic Information Collection.  The focus of the collection is on U.S., Illinois & the Great Lakes, Africana, as well as topographic and world maps.

Plan Ahead For A Visit

Northwestern University's Map and Atlas Collections are located in University Library Room B190 on the lower level. The map collection is not self-service as are other areas of the general library collections.  Map cases are locked, Room B190 is not staffed, and retrieval and viewing of maps and rare atlases requires assistance.  Please make an appointment to work with a map collection specialist by contacting govinfo@northwestern.edu  We are eager to connect you with maps to support your project!

A small proportion of the map collection is represented in NUSearch.  You can prepare for an appointment by searching a combination of keywords such as 'map' or 'atlas' and terms describing your geographic area of interest.  Please note that additional material may be available that does not appear in your NUSearch results.

Northwestern Digital Map Collections

Map & Atlas Digitized Collection - A small number of  maps in our collection have been digitized and can be viewed in this online collection.

16th- Early 20th Century Maps of Africa - digital copies of 113 antique maps of Africa and accompanying text originally collected by the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies.

Online Resources : Beyond Northwestern

Maps published before 1923 and maps published by the U.S. Government are in the public domain. Many of them can be found on the web. Here are our recommended websites to locate maps online!

New York Public Library Digital Collections - Explore 674,128 items digitized from The New York Public Library's collections. New materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and streaming video.

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection - Online Maps
This library links to online maps available on the web and also scanned maps from its map collection. A good location to start your search.  As of 2021 this site is no longer updated.

David Rumsey Map Collection
The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 14,800 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America maps and other cartographic materials, but historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented. Maps can be downloaded in high resolution (but in MrSID format - requires a special viewer/add-on)

Library of Congress Map Collections
American Memory Map Collections of the Library of Congress focuses on the United States, but historic maps of other countries are also included. Images are also available for downloading.

Map History : Images of Early Maps on the Web
The most comprehensive listing of historical maps websites, comprising over 1,200 annotated links.

Alabama Maps: University of Alabama
Similar to the Perry-Castaneda Library website, with more focus on historic maps. One major shortcoming is that images are for viewing only, not available for downloading.

USGS Topo View formerlyThe USGS Store Map Locator and Downloader 
You can buy or download maps of the world and US from this USGS website. Topographic maps are probably the most popular product.

Map Discovery Resources