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Historical Objects

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Maps

This is a brief guide to finding and using digital facsimiles of historical objects oriented toward Boston College students, faculty, and staff.

Maps and History

emptyWe have recorded evidence of people trying to understand their locals and the world for millenia. Three-dimensional space with valleys and hills does not, however, flatten easily onto a two-dimensional vellum, paper, or papyrus. Shaped by personal perspectives maps--even "factual" ones--demonstrate an individual's specific view of the space around them, often saying more about their politics than the "real" world. Because of that human involvement, maps become historical sources for both understanding the world and the people looking at it. Maps (like the 15th c. Kangnido map or 17th c. Pierre Du Val maps to the right) are, in short, one of the fascinating avenues for studying historical world views. 

emptyOn this page, you will find links to large map collections in various digital repositories around the world. These collections focus on worlds, state, and regions. Be aware that local repositories--not featured here--can be excellent places to find town and regional maps. For resources on maps as a part of Digital Scholarship (DS), visit BC's Data/Statistics/GIS portal.

What's on This Page

This page has a lot on it. You can use the following anchors (links down the page) to jump straight to a relevant box.

    The databases listed here are just the beginning of our statistical and spatial data collections. See the Data/Statistics/GIS Portal for a more complete list.

    Broad Digital Historical Map Collections (Recommended)

    These are enormous map collections. Consider starting your search here. Check area Research Guides (e.g. MENA history) for additional, local map collections.

    Further Digital Map Collections

    Historical Depictions of the World

    U.S. Specific Map Collections

    U.S. City Collections

    Remember to check broader collections for more maps. Check out BC Libraries' Urban History Guide for city plans and architectural designs.