The collection represents an important historical record of the mapping of North America and the Caribbean.
Most of the items presented here are documented in Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750-1789: A Guide to the Collections in the Library of Congress compiled by John R. Sellers and Patricia Molen van Ee in 1981. The bibliography contains approximately 2,000 maps and charts. Over the next several years many of the maps and charts in this bibliography will be added to the online collection each month.
The maps and charts in this online collection number well over two thousand different items, with easily as many or more unnumbered duplicates, many with distinct colorations and annotations. Almost six hundred maps are original manuscript drawings, a large number of which are the work of such famous mapmakers as John Montrésor, Samuel Holland, Claude Joseph Sauthier, John Hills, and William Gerard De Brahm. They also include many maps from the personal collections of William Faden, Admiral Richard Howe, and the comte de Rochambeau, as well as large groups of maps by three of the best eighteenth-century map publishers in London: Thomas Jefferys, William Faden, and Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres. Historical cartographers can compare multiple editions, states, and impressions of several of the most important maps of the period, follow the development of a particular map from the manuscript sketch to the finished printed version and its foreign derivatives, and examine the cartographic styles and techniques of surveyors and mapmakers from seven different countries: Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Italy, and the United States.