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Highlights Archives

Society's Historical Maps, Atlases Go Online


1830 map of Michigan and Wisconsin territories by John Farmer of Detroit
WHI 41281

The Society has just published online the first 500 maps from its map and atlas collection. Ranging in date from 1584 to 2010, the maps will serve as a resource for teachers, students, scholars and curious laypeople. Most depict Wisconsin or the Great Lakes, but several dozen show other parts of North America. Online users can examine most of the maps in extraordinary detail simply by clicking on any location on the map to enlarge the view. Thanks to a recent gift from the Caxambas Foundation, the Society will add many more historical maps to the online collection in coming months.

Maps for Everyone

Educators will find everything they need to illustrate Wisconsin history, from simple outline maps of major geographic features to detailed thematic maps showing the distribution of income, ethnic groups or farm products over time. Collectors will want to browse the 57 antiquarian maps gathered by George S. Parker and placed on deposit with the Society last year. These include some of the first maps of America. Family historians will want to consult the maps showing changes in county boundaries, and local historians will want to zoom in on the many birds-eye views of Wisconsin towns and villages.

In addition, the new map pages link to hundreds of Wisconsin maps that appeared only in rare books or in the "Wisconsin Magazine of History." The pages also provide access to the original General Land Office surveyors' notebooks and plats for Wisconsin and the 1940 Bordner statewide survey of land use.

Reproductions Available

Users can copy or downloaded any map for nonprofit educational use or personal research. High-quality reproductions suitable for framing or giving as gifts are available for the most beautiful maps.

More to Come

The Society Library and Archives own 25,000 maps and atlases. Until recently, users could only identify these in a card catalog at the Society headquarters in Madison. Last year the Univ. of Wisconsin supported the initial cataloging of several hundred maps into the University of Wisconsin Library Catalog. A recent gift from the Caxamabas Foundation will enable us to continue this work into the future. As maps are described in the Library Catalog, they will be added to the online collection.

If there are maps that you'd like to see come online, or if you have questions about the new collection, contact Michael Edmonds.

:: Posted January 10, 2011

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