Cartography – Special Map Collections and Strengths

Atlases: The library holds over 12,000 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 (some 60 eds.), Ortelius (over 30 eds.), Mercator-Hondius (9 eds.), Blaeu (12 eds.), over 400 city views and plans issued by Braun and Hogenberg in multiple editions before 1625, dozens of Waghenaer nautical charts, and about 100 Lafreri maps published before 1600. Works broadly defined as atlases 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 2,100 manuscript map reproductions are described in the online catalog. 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 and Hulbert photostat collections include 1,200 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 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, Map6F, and Map3C G5701.S5A 1970 .M5, all checklisted in Map3C 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 online catalog describes over 8,700 Ayer printed maps, manuscript maps, and atlases.

The Roger S. Baskes Collection of more than 19,000 volumes includes thousands of atlases and a great variety of other books collected for their map content (such as geographies and travel guidebooks). Mr. Baskes’s website includes short-title lists of his collection, which is gradually being donated to the Newberry. To date, over 13,000 Baskes titles with cartographic content have been added to the Newberry’s online catalog.

The Cartes Marines Map Collection details French colonial interests throughout the world, and is comprised of about 120 hand-colored manuscript maps dated ca. 1640-1726.

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. 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 Low Countries, and Germany.

The Everett D. Graff Collection includes hundreds of maps published in the nineteenth century, chronicling trans-Mississippi Western history. To date, over 900 Graff maps and atlases are described in the 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. See also hundreds of Graff map images in The American West, an Adam Matthew database.

Maps in Books and Atlases: The online catalog includes over 20,000 descriptions of maps issued in atlases and a wide variety of other books published since 1472.

County Maps: Over 6,500 US and Canadian county maps and atlases published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are cataloged. Local and family history researchers interested in landownership maps should search the catalog by using search phrases for individual county names, for example “Adams County”.

The Chicago Region Map Collection includes over 1,400 items detailing Chicago, Cook County, and the collar counties of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will between 1779-2003.

Chicago fire insurance maps include Robinson’s Atlas of the City of Chicago (1886); Bromley’s Atlas of the City of Chicago, Central Business Property Volume (1891); Rascher’s Block Book of Chicago Business District (1893); Yerkes’s Insurance Map of the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893); the Central Map, Survey and Publishing Company's Union Stock Yards and packing houses (1891); and the Sanborn Map Company’s Insurance Maps of Chicago (1902-1950, revised by Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company to 1993). We also carry an online subscription to Sanborn Maps of Illinois, 1867-1970, covering selected Illinois cities. Find out more about the Newberry’s Fire Insurance Maps collection.

Railroad Maps: To date, over 8,200 United States railroad maps published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, detailing some 150 railroad routes, are cataloged.

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 20,000 US road maps are cataloged. The Michelin Map Collection, primarily covering Western Europe, includes almost 5,000 road maps published since the 1910s by the French tire company. Thousands of additional road maps are held by the library, including deep but unprocessed holdings of maps issued by the American Automobile Association and numerous local automobile clubs. These are included in the library’s future planning for archival collection processing. Contact the Newberry Library Reference Department for more information.

Road Maps and Travel Ephemera Collection: Thousands of items including guide books, brochures, and similar ephemeral printed material, primarily covering the United States and Western Europe, and issued between 1876-2018 (bulk 1950-1990). Also of note are the Newberry’s postcard collections, particularly in the United States and Canada, and including specific travel-focused postcard collections such as the James R. Powell Route 66 Postcard Collection (1926-1960s).

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 16,000 Rand McNally publications are described in the catalog. See also the online finding aid of Rand McNally company records from 1856-1996.

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 25,000 road maps published from 1927 to 1996. Approximately 5,800 Gousha maps and atlases are described in the catalog. Contact the Newberry Library Reference Department for more information.

Reference sources on the history of cartography include more than 4,200 titles on specialized topics, including cartobibliographies and map catalogs, national and regional cartographic histories, gazetteer and place name literature, and academic journals and articles. Among these are over 1,100 sources comprising the Map Reference collection shelved in the Rand McNally Map Reading Room in Special Collections on the 4th floor. For a selected list of 300 titles, see Robert W. Karrow’s Concise Bibliography of the History of Cartography (1997).