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"Religion," mural in the North Corridor, Library of Congress Jefferson Building, by Charles Sprague Pearce, 1897.

Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

Library of Congress
Geography and Map Division

Address: 101 Independence Avenue SE
James Madison Building, Room B01
Washington, DC 20540-4610
Telephone Number: (202) 707-6277
Fax Number: (202) 707-8531
Contact Persons: Kathryn Engstrom, Reference Team Leader
Internet Catalog Address:

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
Monday--Friday 8:30 a.m.--5:00 p.m.
Weekends/Federal Holidays Closed
Open to the public: Yes
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: Yes, with restrictions

The primary mission of the Library of Congress is to serve Members of Congress and thereafter, the needs of the government, other libraries, and members of the public, universities, and learned societies.

A Library of Congress Reader Registration card is required to use the Geography and Map Reading Room. To obtain a registration card, applicants must be 18 years of age or older and present photo identification bearing a verifiable permanent address. The cards are issued without charge in Room G40 of the Jefferson Building. One must enter on the Second Street side of the building to locate this room.

Photocopying depends on the condition, age and size of the item. Photocopying may be done by researchers with coin or debit card. The Library of Congress' Photoduplication Services can provide a wide range of reproductions of the Library's collections, such as single-page photocopies, microforms, or color slides. The ability of the Library to furnish reproductions is subject to copyright and other restrictions. Photoduplication Services is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Further information on products and services can be obtained by contacting Photoduplication Services, Public Services Section, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4570. Telephone: (202) 707-1771. TTY: (202) 855-1234.

Interlibrary loan is limited. No item or atlas over 30 years old will be loaned. Condition and size may also cause other restrictions.

Reference Policy:
The Geography and Map Division will respond to reference inquiries in person in room B01 of the Madison Building. Patrons may also telephone, fax, or write for assistance. The collections are for reference use only and are not available for sale or free distribution. To access the collections of the Geography and Map Division, patrons should speak to a reference librarian after registering with the security person at the entrance to the Reading Room. There is no single comprehensive catalog of the Division's holdings, but online, card and book catalogs, bibliographies and checklists provide access to portions of the collection. The knowledgeable reference staff will assist patrons by directing their search to the most appropriate databases, catalogs, and finding aids.

Address all inquiries to: Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540-4650

Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution.

OCLC, RLIN. Items acquired since 1968 are available on OCLC and RLIN. These are only a small portion of the entire collection, or approximately 170,000 of the total of 4,600,000.

Background Note:
Maps and atlases were among the first items acquired when the Library of Congress was established in 1800. It was, however, not until 1897 when the Library of Congress moved into its own building, that a separate Hall of Maps and Charts was created to house the growing collection of maps and atlases. Currently the Geography and Map Division is housed in a 90,000 square foot space in the basement of the James Madison Memorial Building. Access to the vast collections of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world is provided through the Geography and Map Reading Room located in B01.
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Description of Collections

Books and monographs:
The Geography and Map Division has 60,000 atlases and 6,000 reference books, an indeterminate number of which are related to religion. Those in this area of study are, for the most part, made up of thematic atlases depicting such topics as the geographic distribution of world religions, religious groups, religious institutions, Christian missions, or the history of world religions. Other atlases depict early maps of the holy lands.

The Library of Congress' computer catalog books file covers all monographs in the Geography and Map Division. As of June 1996, all atlases are cataloged in the map file of the computer catalog. At an undetermined point in the future, all atlases will be placed in this map file and the file will then will be treated as a cartographic materials file.

The Geography and Map Division has more than 4,600,000 maps dating from the 14th century to present, an indeterminate number of which are related to religion.

Easily identifiable as religion-related are the 18 drawers of maps of the Bible lands and the 12 drawers maps of the Books of the Bible dating through the 20th century. Many of these maps were produced by missionaries for their work or for pedagogical purposes in regular or Sunday school classes. These maps can be used to study the trends in Christian scholarship. Also of interest is the subdivision religion or specific religion under the names of countries. For example, under China one will find the missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church or the religions of India. Besides the obvious usefulness of these topical maps show, any of those created by missionaries will provide good source material on the study of the missionary movement.

Of special note are the first Hebrew map of Jerusalem, Ptolemy's atlas of the Holy Land, and one of the first atlases printed in Hawaii (by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions).

There is no single comprehensive catalog to the division's holdings, but card and book catalogs, bibliographies and checklists provide access to portions of the collection. Additionally, materials received since 1968 are available for searching online via the Library's Cartographic Materials database.

Subject Headings

Bible--Geography--Maps; Buddhism--Maps; Christianity--Maps; Church buildings--Maps; Ecclesiastical geography--Maps; Hinduism--Maps; Islam--Maps; Missions and missionaries--Maps; Religion and geography--Maps; Religious institutions--Maps; Religious life and customs--Maps; Shrines--Maps; World religions--Maps


National Union Catalog,Cartographic Material (microform). Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1983- .

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  September 13, 2011
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