Since 1995, archivists at Library of Congress have been slowly slogging their way through the Library’s stash of maps, scanning them into digital format. Since 1996, the LOC has been posting these digitized maps online. And last week, they posted number 30,000.

While it can be difficult at times finding exactly what you’re looking for, the maps are truly amazing. With my recent Civil War kick, I’ve been busy enjoying Robert Knox Sneden’s awesome pen / ink and watercolor maps.

Close up of the 2nd Day at Gettysburg

There are two places where you can best jump into the LOC map world. The first is located at the actual Library of Congress site and lets you browse and search a variety of collections including:

The second great place to start is at the American Memory Maps Collection site. You can easily browse for what you might be looking for on the main page but there is also a helpful search page.

The focus of Map Collections is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of the Library of Congress. These images were created from maps and atlases and, in general, are restricted to items that are not covered by copyright protection.

And, yes, 30,000 digitized maps out of over 4.5 million in the entire LOC collection may not seem like a ton. But trust me. Once you start digging into the different collections, it’s like a geography avalanche.

But a good avalanche. Have fun!

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