Maps break down our inhibitions, stimulate our glands, stir our imagination, loose our tongues. The map speaks across the barrier of language; it is sometimes claimed as the language of geography.
The division's general collections, which number over 3.5 million map sheets, include both single-sheet maps and multi-sheet map series. Single-sheet maps, which provide worldwide coverage at small and medium scales, are primarily general purpose and thematic maps of continents, countries, states, counties, and cities. Multi-sheet map series, which are usually prepared at large and medium scales, also provide worldwide coverage, normally at the country and state level. single-sheet maps
This detail of the 1853 map of Wyoming County in the
western part of New York State is typical of the large, wall-sized
county maps that gained wide circulation in the northeastern United
States before the Civil War. Published in Philadelphia by Newel S.
Brown, this map provides coverage of the entire county showing
township boundaries, roads, towns and villages, and names of land
owners, as well as enlarged insets of the individual towns and
villages and views of the more prominent landmarks and structures in
the county. The richly decorated borders emphasize the rural and
agricultural character of the county as well as the Native American
origins of the county name. (Titled Collection)
SINGLE-SHEET MAPSMore than one and a half million sheets of the division's general map holdings are composed of single-sheet maps. Over 350,000 of these, primarily those maps acquired since 1968, have been fully cataloged in the Library's computer-assisted map cataloging system (MARC). The remainder, however, which are unclassified and uncataloged, constitute a collection that is commonly known as the Titled Collection. Although there is no comprehensive listing of the individual maps in the Titled Collection, there is a basic geographic arrangement that makes it relatively easy for researchers to identify the range of maps appropriate for their examination.
The Titled Collection is representative of the history of cartography, spanning the range from finely engraved atlas plates by Ortelius to blue-line plans issued by modern city engineers. Between these two ends of the spectrum lie a fascinating array of cartographic materials. Whether received by copyright deposit, purchase, or gift, the holdings include such items as country, state, city, or county maps; panoramic views and pictorial maps; transportation maps emphasizing roads and railroads; harbor and coastal charts; military maps representing the major battles and wars; newspaper and other journalistic maps; and a broad range of thematic maps. Coverage is worldwide.
Only select portions of the Titled Collection have been described in any form, most notably in area-oriented or genre bibliographies and checklists compiled by division staff. While the richness of the collection is well appreciated, the lack of documentation leaves room for serendipitous discovery that excites readers and staff members alike. What makes the Titled Collection so valuable, however, is not just the "treasures" that are to be uncovered there. For many researchers, working with the Titled Collection can save trips to dozens of institutions. After the invention of the photostating process, the acquisition of photocopies from archives and libraries around the world became a major goal of the division. Consequently, a researcher may find filed next to valuable original printed maps photocopies of important maps from libraries in the United States, England, France, Italy, or Spain.
The Great Texas Cattle Trail is portrayed as the "best and
route from Texas to Kansas on this nineteenth-century promotional
map. Published in 1872 by the Kansas Pacific Railway, the map and
accompanying guide book were intended for "gratuitous distribution."
Maps of the United States are housed in more than seven thousand drawers of the Titled Collection. Here is found a record of the small towns and large cities, states and regions, and the country as a whole. Included are the full range of cartographic materials, from general purpose maps to thematic maps in nearly five hundred categories. Many of the pre-1900 maps of the United States are described in Maps of America (Washington, 1901), compiled by Philip Lee Phillips. While selected card files and specialized bibliographies of states or cities have supplanted this volume for some areas, it is still the best record of the voluminous file of early maps showing the entire United States or its major regions.
Early general maps of the United States are housed in approximately eighty drawers, among which are many editions of desk-size and wall-size maps by such prominent American cartographers as John Melish, Henry S. Tanner, G. Woolworth Colton, S. Augustus Mitchell, David Burr, John Disturnell, H. H. Lloyd, and Gaylord Watson. This part of the collection is most extensive for the midpart of the nineteenth century when the rapid expansion of the United States gave cause for the publication of many significant wall-size maps of the nation, such as the many editions of the "official" map of the country published by the General Land Office.
Beginning in the 1850s, entrepreneurs initiated an important phase in the history of American cartography by producing very detailed maps of counties. Often called "land ownership maps" because they indicate the farms and residences of subscribers, these were usually the first maps of most counties in the Northeast and Midwest, and the Great Plains states. In addition to showing land owners throughout the county, they often contain inset maps of towns and villages as well as vignettes of residences, businesses, and farms. County land ownership maps are among the most heavily used materials in the division because of their value to genealogical studies. The Titled Collection contains nearly fifteen hundred such maps published before 1900, which are described in Land Ownership Maps: A Checklist of Nineteenth-Century United States County Maps in the Library of Congress (Washington, 1967). Before the end of the nineteenth century, most publishers had abandoned the wall map format in favor of county atlases. A few firms continued producing county land ownership maps, although in a less elaborate style, well into the twentieth century.
Published by Ensign, Bridgman & Fanning in New York City in 1856,
this map documents the developing railroad network in the Middle
Atlantic and New England states before the Civil War. The growing
urbanization and industrialization of this region depended on the
rapid construction of an integrated transportation system. (Titled
Railroad maps constitute another important group of maps relating to the growth of the United States. Several hundred of these maps, which are described in Railroad Maps of the United States (Washington, 1975), are found in the Titled Collection, where they are organized into three categories: those showing the rail network of the whole country, an individual state, or a single railroad company. A selection of these maps is also featured in another Library of Congress publication, Railroad Maps of North America: The First Hundred Years (Washington, 1984).
Road maps are also well represented in the Titled Collection. With the development of the automobile and the national system of highways, the road map was created to meet the needs of early automobile enthusiasts. The division's collection of American road maps, for both the nation and individual states, documents the evolution of this particular form of cartography and captures more clearly than any other medium the development of a transportation system oriented to individual movement.
The widespread use of the automobile during the first half
of the twentieth century saw the proliferation of inexpensive road
maps, several of which are illustrated here. Some, such as the "Shell
Road Map of Pennsylvania," which was published in 1933 by The H. M.
Gousha Company, were distributed free by the gas companies, while
others, such as the "Official Auto Trails Map," which was published
by Rand McNally in 1922, were sold at relatively low prices. (Titled
A special strength of the Titled Collection is the wealth of American city plans, particularly for the major urban centers of the nation. In terms of volume, there are eight cities for which there are exceptionally large holdings: Boston (45 drawers), New York (100 drawers), Philadelphia (43 drawers), Washington, D.C. (114 drawers), Detroit (21 drawers), Chicago (42 drawers), Los Angeles (37 drawers), and San Francisco (25 drawers). The maps in these drawers range from basic street plans to special purpose maps. The maps of Detroit are described in Detroit and Vicinity Before 1900 (Washington, 1968), while ward maps for thirty-five cities are listed in Ward Maps of United States Cities (Washington, 1975).
There is less bibliographic description for single-sheet maps of the rest of the world. Maps of America lists many pretwentieth-century maps of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, and Selected Maps and Charts of Antarctica (Washington, 1959) describes single-sheet maps of Antarctica published from 1945 to 1959, a period in which there were numerous large government scientific expeditions sent to that continent. As might be expected, the contents of this portion of the Titled Collection re ects best those areas where cartography developed into an important discipline. Canada and the European nations (especially the United Kingdom, Germany, and France) are well represented in the collections for both historic and current materials. Portions of the world that became parts of European empires were also well mapped in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.
Relative sizes of different portions of the collection can be inferred from drawer counts: Mexico (190 drawers), Central America (360 drawers), South America (695 drawers), Europe (4,360 drawers), Asia (1,350 drawers), Africa (635 drawers), and Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania (480 drawers). Notable countries, in terms of size of the collection, include: Germany (765 drawers), France (720 drawers), Japan (300 drawers), United Kingdom (275 drawers), the former USSR (200 drawers, in addition to 64 drawers of city maps that have been cataloged), and China (110 drawers).
Representative of richly decorated eighteenth-century maps
prepared for the European map trade, this map depicts the Salzburg
province in Austria. It was compiled by the German publisher Johann
Baptist Homann. (Titled Collection)
An extremely important segment of this part of the collection are the 210 drawers of world maps. Approximately 40 percent of these are general reference maps that are arranged chronologically. In addition to original printed maps, there are many facsimiles and photocopies of important world maps from archives and libraries elsewhere in this country and Europe that record the growing geographical knowledge of the earth gained from the European discoveries and exploration that began during the Renaissance. The remainder of the world maps are organized by a variety of subjects, thirty-five of which have at least one or more drawers of maps.
Nineteenth-century maps for virtually all European nations are consulted in part to determine changing political boundaries and to find the location of villages and towns from which ancestors emigrated. In recent years, limited access to the resources of countries under Soviet domination made the division's collections the primary source of cartographic information about those nations.
After World War I, ethnographic and cultural maps were
prepared of the various European countries as part of the process of
drawing new political boundaries. Based on 1921 data, this map shows
the distribution of the four dominant religions (Orthodox, Muslim,
Catholic, and Protestant) in the former Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats,
and Slovenes, which until its breakup in the early 1990s was known as
Yugoslavia. (Titled Collection)
Military and ethnographic maps constitute heavily used categories of the European portions of the Titled Collection. In particular, there are exceptionally strong holdings for maps from the Napoleonic Wars and the first and second world wars. In recent years, considerable research regarding the Holocaust has been conducted within these categories, with emphasis on the location of towns, the movement of peoples throughout Europe, journalistic and propaganda use of maps, and the location of concentration camps. Many maps showing the distribution of various ethnic groups within individual countries were prepared after World War I, as the peacemakers attempted to redraw political boundaries that more closely approximated ethnic boundaries.
Outside the European area, holdings are not nearly as extensive. An important portion of the collection, however, is the grouping labelled Bible Lands, consisting of seventeen drawers of historical maps. They emphasize such Old Testament themes as Canaan, Exodus, Patriarchs, Judges, and Kings, while New Testament themes include the Birth and Life of Christ, Apostles, and Paul.
Much of the early mapping of Asian and African countries was conducted by European colonial governments. Consequently, the collections are very rich in the portrayal of colonial place names and boundaries as well as the cities established as administrative and commercial centers. There are extensive files of city plans for many of the major urban centers of the world. The great European cities, such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Rome, are well represented over the course of several centuries. For the Western Hemisphere, Mexico City, Quebec, and Montreal have the largest number of maps. For many cities, maps from this century are in more demand for research than the earlier ones. This is particularly true for the major Chinese cities of Shanghai and Canton, the maps of which are frequently consulted in the division's reading room.
MULTI-SHEET MAP SERIESMap series, consisting of multiple sheets of maps published at a uniform size and utilizing standardized symbols, include approximately two million map sheets in 12,000 series, constituting the largest and most comprehensive collection of medium- and large-scale map series ever assembled. Virtually every major national mapping organization is represented. These series encompass such diverse subjects as general topographic maps; thematic maps depicting special subjects such as geology, landuse, and census data; large-scale plans of cities; transportation maps; aeronautical charts; and hydrographic charts.
Paris and its neighboring villages and forests are the
focus of the "first sheet" of the Carte
la France. Completed in 1789, this was the first multisheet,
topographic map series of an entire country. (Map Series Collection)
The geographical coverage dates from the beginning of large-scale topographic mapping and nautical charting in the eighteenth century. Series produced before 1900 focus more heavily on Western Europe, re ecting the longer tradition of large-scale mapping in this region. Series produced during the first half of the twentieth century provide good coverage for Europe, East Asia, and portions of Africa since these regions were heavily mapped by competing armies or colonial powers. With the end of the Cold War, the division has once again begun acquiring current, large-scale topographic series of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Because of the time and cost of surveying large areas at a detailed scale, most of the map series were produced by official mapping organizations.
The collection has been developed primarily through the deposit of new issues and reprints of standard map and chart series produced by official mapping and charting agencies and also through the transfer of obsolete and superceded materials from federal map libraries, particularly the former Army Map Service (AMS) Library and its successor, the Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic/Topographic Center Library. International exchanges and purchases coordinated by an interagency procurement committee directed by the State Department, a program that dates from 1948, have also been a major source of maps.
The earliest multisheet map series is the Carte géométrique de la France, or more commonly, Carte de Cassini, completed by César François Cassini de Thury and his son Jacques-Dominique in 1789 (180 sheets at the scale of 1:86,400). The first general topographic map of the an entire country based on a network of meticulously surveyed triangles, the Carte de Cassini established the basic principles of national mapping which are still employed throughout the world today. A year later the British Ordnance Survey was established to prepare a topographic map of England and Ireland for military and administrative purposes. Similar national surveys were soon begun in other European countries, all of which are found in the Library's collection.
Representative selection of large-scale, multisheet series maps
issued by official government mapping organizations:
European colonial powers were the first to undertake large-scale topographic surveys in other parts of the world. The British established the Survey of India in 1767 but it was not until 1802 that a geodetic triangulation of the subcontinent was begun and the first period of topographic surveys initiated. The Dutch Topographic Service began mapping in the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) in the 1860s. Similarly, the first official topographic maps of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam were prepared by the French Army's Topographic Bureau in 1886. Most other national topographic mapping programs were created in the twentieth century. For historical research, these series are especially valuable because individual sheets were revised periodically to re ect internal improvements such as canals, roads, and railroads, growth of urban areas, and boundary and name changes.
Large-scale map series of Central and East European countries are among the most frequently consulted maps in the collections because of their value to genealogists attempting to locate the names of towns from which their ancestors emigrated. The Karte des Deutschen Reiches, for example, consists of 674 separate map sheets. Most of these sheets were revised one or more times resulting in a total count of 4,074 map sheets covering the period from 1879 to 1944. Printed at a scale of 1:100,000 by the German mapping organization Riechsamt für Landesaufnahme, this series provides geographic coverage for pre-World War II Germany, which included parts of present-day Poland and Russia.
The division has a nearly complete set of the various series of topographic maps of the United States issued by the U.S. Geological Survey. The most detailed current topographic maps are at the scale of 1:24,000 for forty-nine states and 1:63,360 for Alaska.
Series at 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 are complete for the country. There are also historic series dating from the 1880s at scales of 1:62,500, 1:125,000, and 1:250,000.
Topographic surveys are valuable in part because they serve as a framework on which other information can be mapped. Geological information, in particular, is best understood when presented in relation to surface topography. The multi-sheet map collection is particularly strong with respect to geological maps. The earliest represented is the geologic survey of Saxony, begun in 1830 under the direction of Carl Friedrich Nauman and Carl Bernhard von Cotta, geologists associated with the famed mining academy in Freiberg. The Library also has extensive holdings of the Geological Survey of England and Wales, the first national geological survey which began in 1835 with the appointment of Henry de la Beche, an English stratigrapher and structural geologist. Since color is crucial to the portrayal of geological information, these early maps were meticulously hand colored with as many as seventy different tints displayed to distinguish different rock units.
Other multi-sheet maps focus on such special subjects as vegetation, forestry, soils, demography, and topics relating to environmental issues. For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently deposited a set of almost nineteen thousand National Wetland Inventory maps that were prepared as the result of a 1986 Congressional action to aid industry, agriculture and government decisionmaking on this subject.
The development of national mapping programs in the nineteenth century laid the foundation for multiple sheet series at various scales designed specifically for artillery and tactical use. For World War I, the collections include extensive series of French, British, German, and American maps at scales as large as 1:10,000 and 1:20,000 showing networks of trenches and positions of artillery units. Following the war, a special series of French maps was prepared to show the devastated regions.
This hand-colored geological sheet was issued by the
Geological Survey of England and Wales, the first national geological
survey organization. It portrays the geological structure in an area
on the border of Westmoreland and Yorkshire in 1889. (Map Series
A large number of the multi-sheet map series were also produced during World War II. All of the major military belligerents devoted extensive resources to compiling maps. The primary topographic map-producing organizations for the Allies were the British Directorate of Military Survey, War Office, Geographical Section, General Staff (GSGS), and the U. S. Army Map Service (AMS). In an unprecedented example of cooperation, Great Britain assumed primary responsibility for mapping the Eastern Hemisphere while the United States focused on the Western Hemisphere and the western Pacific. Their combined production totaled more than one billion printed sheets covering most of Europe, North Africa, and East and South Asia. Following World War II, the Library acquired a considerable number of German and Japanese military multi-sheet maps captured by American military units, particularly maps of Europe produced by the German Generalstab des Heeres (General Staff of the Army) and of northern and eastern China and Manchuria surveyed by the Japanese Kwantung Army, the Japanese General Staff, and the Japanese Imperial Survey during the 1930s. Among the captured maps are tactical and operational map series produced by the Soviet General'nyy Shtab Krasnoy Armii (General Staff of the Red Army), the Glavnoye Upravleniye Geodezii i Kartografii (GUGK), and the Narodyy Komissariat Vnutrennykh Del (NKVD) which had been initially captured by German forces, including some which contain German military maps printed on the verso.
Military map series prepared for American units in Korea and Vietnam are also housed in the division. The 1:50,000 scale maps for Vietnam (L7014 series) prepared by the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) are available for reference use but most large-scale military maps are restricted to official use. This restriction also applies to other dma topographic series covering selected Third World countries.
An early experimental air navigation strip map produced by
the Air Service of the U.S. Army in 1923 shows insets of individual
landing fields in red and prominent features along an air route from
New York City to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. (Map Series Collection)
The fall of the iron curtain and the liberalization of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and Russia has provided a new opportunity to build upon the division's existing strong collection of early large-scale topographic maps of these countries. Since 1990 the Geography and Map Division has devoted considerable attention to acquiring cartographic resources from this region and other geographic areas where map distribution had been restricted. Through purchases, transfers, gifts, and exchange agreements, the Library of Congress has begun to fill a fifty-year gap in its international holdings. Recent detailed cartographic coverage has been acquired for Albania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, the former Soviet Union, and the former Yugoslavia. Of special interest is the recent acquisition of large-scale coverage of Soviet mapping of London, Stockholm, Rotterdam, and forty-seven other cities.
The twentieth century saw the development of the aeronautical chart. In the early years of aviation, there were few navigational aids, and pilots used physical features on the ground as landmarks along their route. The earliest example of this type in the division is a series of Carte aéronautique issued by the French Service Géographique de l'Armée about 1911. About the same time, the Aéro-Club de France began issuing a series of "strip charts," narrow maps that showed the area along common ight paths. During World War I, the Carte de l'Aéro Club de France provided the primary aeronautical charts used on the Western Front.
In the United States, the U.S. Army Air Service began the production of air navigation strip maps in 1923 that showed prominent features along Army air routes between principal cities, and a year later the U.S. Hydrographic Office issued aviation charts of coastal areas. Following the passage of the Air Commerce Act in 1926, the Commerce Department's Coast and Geodetic Survey began compiling airway strip maps that provided coverage for an emerging civilian air industry and shortly thereafter introduced a standardized series of charts that covered the whole nation. The coverage of air navigation charts expanded dramatically during World War II with charts produced by all of the major air forces being well represented.
The development of cartography during and after the Renaissance was closely intertwined with nautical charting; subsequently, modern hydrographic surveying has become a highly specialized and separate discipline. A major component of the Division's multi-sheet map series is the official nautical charts produced by fifty-five nations. New charts and editions contribute to the steady stream of new receipts each year. The entire history of nautical charting is well represented in the collections.
This chart of Charleston, South Carolina, harbor is from the
Neptune, a collection of charts based on the first systematic survey
of the American coast. Published between 1774 and 1781, the Atlantic
Neptune was prepared by Joseph Frederick Wallet des Barres for the
British Admiralty. (Atlantic Neptune Collection)
The beginning of organized hydrographic surveying and chart production at a national level can also be traced to France with the founding of Le Depôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine in 1720, shortly before César François Cassini de Thury began his work on the first national topographic map. Jacques Nicolas Bellin, the Royal Hydrographer and head of the agency, initiated a number of hydrographic atlases in the mid-1700s that covered the coasts of France as well as the rest of the world. In the mid-1830s, Adm. Jacques Hamelin, Director of the Depôt from 1832 until 1839, presented to the Naval Observatory in Washington, the predecessor of the U.S. Navy's Hydrographic Office, a set of French nautical charts bound in thirty-nine volumes that were subsequently transferred to the Library of Congress. The division's collection of loose-sheet, French nautical charts is housed in nearly one hundred drawers, containing approximately twenty thousand charts.
The British Admiralty's organized hydrographic activities date from 1795, with the appointment of Alexander Dalrymple to the position of Royal Hydrographer. Dalrymple, who had achieved considerable knowledge and expertise as the hydrographer for the East India Company, assembled several compilations of charts dating from 1703 to 1807, which are included in the division's atlas collection. After the appointment of Francis Beaufort to the position of hydrographer in 1829, the British Admiralty became the dominant charting organization in the world. The division's collection of loose-sheet British Admiralty charts, dating from the mid-1800s, is housed in approximately 350 drawers and contains an estimated 35,000 sheets.
The 1816 appointment of Ferdinand Hassler, a Swiss mathematician and surveyor, to head the U.S. Coast Survey, which had been established in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson, marked the beginning of significant charting activity in this country. Although its responsibilities have been expanded to include the maintenance of the nation's infrastructure of geodetic control stations and the production of aeronautical charts, the agency is still producing nautical charts of the United States under the name of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. As the country expanded, the Coast Survey extended its operations first from the Atlantic to the Gulf Coast, then to the Pacific waters of California, Oregon, and Washington, to Alaska, and finally to Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific. The division's holdings of Coast Survey charts include a collection housed in 250 drawers, containing an estimated 25,000 sheets.
Daily situation maps prepared by the 12th Army Group of the
Allied Forces record the liberation of France starting with the
invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. This multisheet series
shows the location of the 12th Army Group and adjacent Allied forces
as well as the German units for each day until July 26, 1945. (Map
As the U.S. Navy expanded its activities around the world in the early 1800s to provide protection for the nation's expanding maritime commerce, the Hydrographic Office was organized within the Navy Department to supervise the surveying and charting of foreign waters. This operation initially formed within the Naval Observatory, known as the Depot of Charts, under the direction of Lt. Charles Wilkes. After just a few years in this position, Wilkes left to head the U.S. Exploring Expedition in the years 1837 to 1842. The charts produced during that voyage to Antarctica, the Tuamotu Archipelago and the Society Islands, the Fiji and Samoa Groups, Hawaii, and the Northwest Coast of America were first published as a separate atlas but subsequently were used as the core material around which charting of foreign waters was developed. Wilkes's successor at the Depot of Charts, Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury, was instrumental in expanding the production of charts. For nearly one hundred forty years the Hydrographic Office operated as a separate entity, and the total production of the agency is represented by a collection of 170 drawers with approximately 17,000 sheets.
In addition to the charts of the United States, Great Britain, and France, the division has important historical charts from other countries, including Argentina, Australia, Japan, Germany, Latvia, Mexico, Spain, Russia, and the former Yugoslavia. A large number of captured Japanese and German charts were transferred to the division after World War II. Charts from this era re ect the fact that even after a century of organized chart making, the world's waters were still imperfectly known. The Japanese and American charts of Tarawa, for example, one of the costliest World War II invasions by U.S. Marines in the Pacific, were based on a survey made by the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841 and updated with just minor corrections by the British Admiralty in 1925!
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Help Desk (01/12/2000)