Download Over 91,000 Maps from the World’s Largest Private Collection

David Rumsey Map Collection

Mass Migrations of Mankind by Edwin L. Sundberg, 1944.

Map lovers will be thrilled by the possibility to peruse some of the world's most unique historic maps. Over 91,000 maps from the exhaustive David Rumsey Map Collection have been placed online for the world to view and download, making it a treasure trove of information related to cartography. The collection, which was started over 30 years ago, is now housed at Stanford University.

In the 1980s, David Rumsey, president of the digital publishing company Cartography Associates, began building his collection by first focusing on maps of North and South America. With materials dating from the 16th to 21st centuries, the collection is unique in its scope of maps focusing on the United States. From 19th-century ribbon maps of the Mississippi to the world's largest early world map, the collection is filled with special gems that show the wide variety of artistic maps produced throughout history.

It's possible to search the collection by different categories like Celestial, Pictorial, Maritime, and U.S. Civil War, as well as by continent. When viewing the individual maps, you can download them in high-resolution, order prints, and share them. If you're interested in understanding how these historic maps overlap with the modern world, some even allow geo-referencing. This places the map of your choice next to a current world map, where you can examine how the points overlay.

Techies will love quirky maps like early depictions of Silicon Valley from the 1980s, while astronomers are sure to swoon over a 17th-century star projection. A quick search through the online collection will soon make apparent that whether your interest is geography, geology, urban planning, literature, or history—there's something for everyone.

For Rumsey, having his private collection accessible to the public is a dream.”When you can see all the maps, globes, charts, atlases, and their related materials in one space, as you can in my physical library, you can start to sense how maps grow one from another in time, incorporates the new discoveries of an earlier map, and thus you can visually feel the flow of history over several centuries,” said Rumsey. “By putting all my maps in one site on the Web, I hope to re-create this sense of connection between the maps and history, as well as introducing people to the stunning beauty of these arcane materials that most have never seen.”

Over 91,000 historic maps from the David Rumsey Map Collection are available for free download.

Map of Silicon Valley in the 1980s

Silicon Valley by Maryanne Regal Hoburg, 1982.

Download Free Historic Maps

Star Map by Elizabeth Shurtleff, 1930.

David Rumsey Map Collection

Berghaus Star Projection, North Pole by Ignace Gaston Pardies, 1636-1673-

David Rumsey Map Collection: Website | Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [Open Culture]

All images via the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Related Articles:

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World’s Largest Early World Map Stitched Together for the First Time

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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