Cartography – Special Map Collections and Strengths

Daniel Stoopendaal. Orbis terrarum... 1686. Vault Case oversize C 23 .2532.

Daniel Stoopendaal. Orbis terrarum… 1686. Vault Case oversize C 23 .2532.

Note that collection names highlighted below are rollover links that display associated Newberry Library Cartographic Catalog (NLCC) records in a separate browser window.

Atlases: The library holds over 19,000 atlases, very broadly defined to include works containing five or more maps (over 5,000 dating from before 1850). Included are many sixteenth and seventeenth century works, some in multiple editions. Examples include Ptolemy's Geographia (over 70 eds.), Ortelius (31 eds.), Mercator-Hondius (nine eds.), Blaeu (eight eds.), Braun and Hogenberg, Waghenaer, and Lafreri. Works broadly defined as atlases are described in the NLCC; these include a great variety of books issued with maps, including but not limited to gazetteers, school geographies, government publications, travel literature, and bibles published in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.

Manuscript maps and manuscript reproductions: Over 500 manuscript maps and 2,200 manuscript map reproductions are described in the NLCC. The Edward E. Ayer Manuscript Map Collection includes 30 portolan charts and atlases of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Cartes Marines Manuscript Map Collection of 120 maps of French possessions around the world (ca. 1675-1725), and about 250 other original manuscripts variously dated ca. 1425-1925. The Karpinski, Hulbert, and Ayer photostat collections include 1,300 reproductions of manuscript maps of the world and the Americas. Originally compiled between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, the originals are held by archives in Paris, London, Madrid, Seville, and Lisbon. See the NLCC; see also the Karpinski guides and shelf lists in the map reading room.

In addition, the Library holds 125 European military and battle maps compiled between 1733-1815 (cataloged collectively as Map4F, Map 6F, and Map 3C G5701.S5A 1970 .M5), and the Paul Carles research collection of the history of the French marine, which includes hundreds of early prints and manuscript tracings of maps (not cataloged, but see partial checklist shelved as Map Ref folio Z6028 .N4853a).

The Edward E. Ayer Collection documents the discovery and exploration of the Americas. To date, the cartographic catalog describes over 7,200 Ayer items, including some 2,000 separately printed maps, 500 atlases, and about 400 manuscript maps. Printed Ayer titles are listed in the NLCC, the Newberry's online catalog, and the card catalog. Manuscripts are separately described in the NLCC and in the Newberry's main online catalog.

The Cartes Marines Map Collection details French colonial interests throughout the world, and is comprised of about 120 maps dated ca. 1640-1726. Described in both catalogs.

The Franco Novacco Map Collection includes over 700 maps printed in Italy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one of the strongest such collections in the world. All are described in the NLCC; see also the Novacco checklist and shelf lists in the map reading room.

The Johan Gabriel Sack Map Collection comprises over 1,300 national and regional maps of Europe dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mostly published in France, the Netherlands, and Germany; all are described in the NLCC.

The Everett D. Graff Collection includes hundreds of maps published in the nineteenth century, chronicling trans-Mississippi Western history. To date, over 1,000 Graff maps are described in the NLCC; others are described in the main online catalog. In addition, readers may refer to the Index to Maps in the Catalog of the Everett D. Graff Collection (1972), which is keyed to both separate items and maps in books. The index is tipped into copies of Colton Storm's Catalog of the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana (1968) shelved in the Reference Center and the map room.

Maps in Books and Atlases: The NLCC includes over 20,000 descriptions of maps issued in atlases and a wide variety of other books published between 1472-2010.

County Maps: Over 5,000 US and Canadian county maps and atlases published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are described in the NLCC. Local and family history researchers interested in landownership maps should search the NLCC by using search phrases for individual county names, for example "Adams County" (entered into the NLCC without quotation marks).

The Chicago Region Map Collection includes over 1,500 items detailing Chicago, Cook County, and the collar counties of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will between 1779-2003; all are described in the NLCC.

Approximately 50 Fire Insurance Atlases and Maps are held by the library for Illinois cities and towns, and scattered other US cities, issued by the Sanborn Map Co. and other publishers since the late nineteenth century. Find out more about the Newberry's Fire Insurance Maps collection. We also carry an online subscription to Sanborn Maps of Illinois, 1867-1970, covering selected Illinois cities.

Railroad Maps: To date, over 7,900 United States railroad maps published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, detailing some 150 railroad routes, are described in the NLCC.

Road Maps: The archives of Rand McNally, the General Drafting Company, and the H. M. Gousha Company, together forming the so-called "Big Three" of twentieth century American road map publishing, are held by the library. To date, over 16,500 US road maps are described in the NLCC.

The archives of Rand McNally and Company includes books, atlases, maps, and guidebooks published by the company from the 1870s to the present. To date, over 15,000 Rand McNally publications are described in the NLCC. Contact the Newberry Library Reference Department for more information.

The General Drafting Company Archives includes 25,000 road maps, original artwork, atlases, and travel guides spanning the company's history between 1909-1991; not cataloged. Contact the Newberry Library Reference Department for more information.

The H.M. Gousha Company Archives include some 100,000 road maps published from 1927 to 1996. To date 3,600 Gousha maps and atlases are described in the NLCC. Contact the Newberry Library Reference Department for more information.

The Bibliography of the History of Cartography includes over 8,300 secondary sources on specialized topics, including cartobibliographies and map catalogs, national and regional cartographic histories, gazetteer and place name literature, and academic journals and articles. The Map and Cartographic Reference Collection includes over 1,000 titles, and is shelved in the Rand McNally Map Reading Room in Special Collections on the 4th floor. All are described in the NLCC. For a selected list of 300 titles, see Robert W. Karrow's Concise Bibliography of the History of Cartography (1997).

The private collection of Newberry trustee Roger S. Baskes includes 16,000 books (atlases, travel guidebooks, geography books, and related reference material) containing more than 400,000 maps. Mr. Baskes's web site includes short-title lists of his collection, which is gradually being donated to the Newberry. Most of the Baskes Collection is also described in the NLCC. 


NLCC Quick Searches 

NOTE: These pull-down menus are very selective and incomplete, and do not include links to thousands of items cataloged with thousands of other geographic subject headings, such as cities, counties, foreign administrative divisions, and geographic regions (rivers, seas, mountains, etc.). For a complete list of geographic subject headings (with over 90,000 catalog links), see the NLCC subject index.

Selected World, Contintental, and Regional Maps

Selected Country Maps

Selected Maps of the United States and U.S. Regions, States, and Territories

Digital Map Images

Over 1,000 map descriptions in the NLCC are linked to digital images. Included are images of the entire Cartes Marines Manuscript Map Collection, detailing French colonial interests worldwide on about 120 maps dated ca. 1640–ca. 1726.