All researchers know that maps are very important in clarifying the idea of the researcher or in summarizing a lot of ideas. Often one map is enough to reveal what the researcher wants to say, whether it’s talking about political maps that talk about conflicts and wars, or water and resources, or maps that talk about places where epidemics and diseases are spreading, or maps that talk about languages and religions, and so in all science and all research, maps are very important elements in scientific research and knowledge in general.
In this article, we present a number of websites where researchers or average readers can find important and credible maps that can be used in their research or scientific or journalistic articles, including old and rare maps.
David Ramsey’s Historic Map Collection began more than 30 years ago and now contains more than 150,000 maps. The collection focuses on rare maps from the 16th to the 21st century of North and South America, as well as maps of the world, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, wallcharts, globe spheres, school geography, pocket maps, exploration books, nautical charts, and a variety of cartographic materials, including pocket maps, wall charts, children’s books, and manuscripts.
The digitization of the collection started in 1996, and there are now over 109,000 items on the internet, with new additions being added regularly. The website is free and open to the public. Access is not only to high-resolution images of widely indexed maps, but also to a variety of tools that allow users to compare, analyze, and display items in new and experimental ways.
Maps are uniquely suited for high-resolution scanning because of the large amount of detailed information they contain. Digitization increases their accessibility, and when combined with online catalogs, they can be searched several ways after being indexed. The site allows the public access to rare maps that have been hidden or were only available to a select few.
Each image is accompanied by full indexing data, which allows for an in-depth search of the collection. A careful examination of maps reveals the growth and decline of cities, the mining of fossils, the railways, and the “discovery” of the West by European explorers. The collection also includes European prints that contain maps of the Americas, which have influenced American cartographers, as well as maps of other parts of the world that are characterized by great professionalism, importance, and beauty.
David Ramsey donated his full set of physical maps to Stanford University, where they are located at the David Ramsey Cartographic Center at Stanford Library. Rumsey Map Center opens to the public on weekdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Stanford University archives all of the center’s digital map collection, also accessing it through Stanford’s digital repository.
This site is considered the most important for collecting maps and granting free access to them. It has been created and developed (OldMapsOnline) by OldMapsOnline with a love of history and a legacy of ancient maps. It started as a collaboration between Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland and the Historic Geographic Information Systems of Great Britain (GIS) project based at the University of Portsmouth, UK, with funding from JISC. Since January 2013, the project has been improved and maintained by volunteers and the Klokan Technologies GmbH team in their spare time.
The website aims to display a set of tools for the publication of historical maps, with an emphasis on making them accessible to the general public. The core of the retrieval system is the MapRank Search program. The web is optimized for search engines using GeoSEO, supported by linked data, and it displays structured data. The website indexes more than 400,000 maps thanks to university archives and libraries, which were open to the idea and submitted their content online, and which number more than 30 university and research libraries.
The archive of maps goes back to the 1970s, when Malcolm Swanson, a historian with a passion for mapping, began to develop a set of innovative, objective maps that tell graphically complex historical stories.
For the next 50 years, he worked with countless book publishing houses, conceptualizing and mapping a range of titles covering topics as diverse as ancient Rome, the Crusades, the Vietnam War, World War II, and world religions. In time, his son, the cartographer Alex Swanson, joined him and together they created a huge archive of historical maps. With the advent of the digital age, they realized that their maps would be excellent online resources, ideal for researchers, teachers, students, and historians in a chair with their arms, and they generated a map archive.
The archive of maps has a huge number of maps on different subjects, but access to them is not completely free, as they can be seen with the appearance of a site logo, and you have to pay from a dollar to three dollars if you want to use maps without the site logo. Because the maps provided by the site are very important, this amount is acceptable.
Historic Map Works, LLC is headquartered in South Portland, Middle East, and is an internet company created to create a historic digital map database for North America and the world. Based on the largest physical collection of American real estate atlases, it aims to be the best online destination for map lovers and researchers alike.
The site’s owners have also merged their own surveys with the World Archeological Map Collection from the Osher Map Library. Bringing together these collections allows visitors to gather a wealth of information spanning several centuries of cartographic information.
The collection includes various maps from U.S. real estate atlases, archeological maps, marine schemes, and special collections (celestial maps and personal photos and other historical photos).
The vast majority of the group database was created by scanning the original map with high resolution by teams of highly skilled photo technicians. Technicians encode each geographic map into a modern map to enable search by address functionality. Linking historical images in the database allows visitors to search by the modern day address or latitude and longitude coordinates. Other ways of presenting maps include navigating by geographic location as well as searching by keywords, city names, manufacturers names, or simply by year. The site’s map collection contains over 1,662,928 individual photos.
Stanford’s Maps of Africa Collection became a major research resource in August of 2001 with the acquisition of the Oscar I. Norwich Collection of Maps of Africa and its islands, 1486 – ca. 1900. This acquisition added 316 maps to Stanford’s existing holdings of Maps of Africa. The collection was once again augmented in 2010 with the purchase of 294 maps from Caroline Batchelor, and then again in 2011 with a small set of maps from Rodney Shirley. Altogether, the Maps of Africa Collection holds over 859 maps at the David Rumsey Map Center, all of which are searchable and viewable through Stanford’s Catalog.