Okay. It’s more than 2000. It’s way more than 2000. I’m just not sure how many it is and 2000 seemed like a safe, round number. You can find the more than 2000 historical maps using two very cool map finding tools.
Over the last couple of years the British Library has been busy geo-referencing its collection of historical maps. So far 2,236 historical maps around the world have been added to the British Library Map Finder. Need a map of the German defenses faced by Allied troops on D-day? How about a map used by British General Burgoyne at the 1777 siege at Saratoga, New York?
The Map Finder uses Google Maps to show the location of all of the Library’s maps that have been geo-referenced. It allows you to search the historical maps by location and view the maps overlaid on top of Google Maps.
An opacity control allows users to compare the historical map to the current Google Map and there is even an option to view the historical map using the Google Earth browser.
A separate but equally awesome tool is Old Maps Online. The Old Maps Online Portal is an easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. It allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution.
The difference between Old Maps Online and other online map sites such as the British Library Map FInder is that OMO is a portal, not a collection. It basically uses a Google Map interface and a slider timeline feature to help you narrow down time and place – it then uses its access to the online collections of five institutions to give you a set of maps from which to choose.
But both give you and your kids quick and easy to use methods of finding useful maps for classroom instruction.