Historical Maps and Charts Project

“NOT FOR NAVIGATIONAL USE” the site says in very large red letters. Also in red: “Facsimile prints and reprints of these historical maps and charts are NOT available.” Um, okay. If you can get past that, you can search a database of over 21,000 digitized maps and charts from 1747 to 2001. It’s available at

You can search by keyword, by state or region (these maps are international), type (from aeronautical chart to topographic index), year, or chart number. I did a search for maps in Maryland and got 813 results. Results come in a table and I can’t tell how they’re sorted. It does appear that all the results show on a single page, which is handy when you’re trying to find the oldest map, but it does mean you might have to wait a few minutes for it to load.

I finally settled on a State of Maryland nautical chart from 1840. The search results show the region that the map covers (in this case, MD-VA-DC-DE) and offer a preview link for the map. Click that and you’ll get a Flash-based Zoomify map that lets you zoom in and out, drag it around, etc. If you want to download the map you can get a SID version or a JPG. The downloads were free and didn’t require any registration.

If you’d like to explore these maps but can’t think of any queries, I suggest browsing the map types. There are 29 Civil War maps (including several troop movement maps), one “sketch” map, a couple of pocket maps, etc. Alas, there are not yet any City Plans marked as such in the database, and a couple of the other map types are empty too.

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