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Happy New Year. Currier & Ives, 1876. Prints and Photographs Division.

A Year in Review: Newly Scanned Maps of 2023

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The Geography and Map Division and the Library of Congress have robust digital scan labs that are constantly working to make our collections more accessible. As has become tradition (see previous Year in Review posts), to celebrate the end of a year and to ring in the new, I will take a look back at the maps that were digitized last year which are now available online and choose just a few to share with you!

Our team has several large ongoing scanning projects, one of which is the scanning of maps in our single map title collection. The title collection consists of single sheet maps that were received by the Geography and Map Division before the advent of machine-readable cataloging in 1968, and have been cataloged at a collection level instead of an individual sheet level. The maps are filed by geographic location and constitute the bulk of the single-sheet maps at the Library. In an effort to make these maps more accessible, the title collection maps are being scanned and made available online. As an example of the interesting maps that can be found in this collection, the map below is from a drawer of maps on various subjects in California. Published in 1910 by the Los Angeles Examiner, it shows in striking color the different types of agricultural land and residence tracts in southern California.

Panoramic view of southern California with squares of color representing various types of land, mostly blues and oranges. Ocean in foreground and mountains running through center of image.
[Southern California land tracts]. Los Angeles Examiner, 1910. Geography and Map Division.
A second ongoing digital project is to scan the Sanborn fire insurance maps that have become public domain in the last several years, namely those from 1923-1928, and to make them available online. Proceeding with the states in alphabetical order, our scan team has been scanning these map sheets. Last year, we were able to put more sheets from Alabama online with more to come!

Detailed building level map showing the individual buildings present on several blocks of Mobile Alabama. Buildings are colored yellow, pink, and brown dependent on building material type.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama. Volume 1, 1924, Sheet 7. Geography and Map Division.

Part of the scanning priorities in the division are to scan maps that are popular or of general interest to the public. One such set of maps that were digitized this past year are the Hart-Bolton American history map set which are frequently requested by patrons. Herbert Bolton and Albert Bushnell were well respected historians at the beginning of the 20th century, contributing many writings and articles to their fields. Together over the course of a decade, they created a series of 48 wall maps for the classroom to help in the instruction of American history with a companion teacher’s manual containing more information and questions for students about each map. According to the authors,

“This series is intended to meet the needs which have developed out of the attempt to make history a rational subject, through which children may understand that the human voyages and expeditions and settlements are all dependent upon the distribution of land, water, river, plan and mountain on the surface of the American continent. When history is thus localized on the face of the earth, the next necessity is for generalized wall maps, which make clear the rivalries of nations, the progress of colonies, state and federal republic; and the play of human forces within the area of the United States and neighboring countries.”

The entire series is now available online with two examples of the maps shown below.

A map of the world with the outline of continents with red lines showing the routes of explorers and shading indication which European country colonized which areas of the world.
World Exploration to 1580. Bolton American History Series, 1918. Geography and Map Division.
Four maps of the United States on one sheet showing the progression of the suffrage movement in each state. Maps are from 1880, 1890, 1910, and 1920.
Woman Suffrage. Hart American History Series, 1928. Geography and Map Division.

Newly acquired vault material is also a high priority for scanning. Last year the Division purchased a large double sided 18th century manuscript map on cloth that depicts central and southern Thailand, the Thai border with Burma, and Cambodia. One side, painted in blue, covers Thailand from the Mae Taeng River to another river, likely the Chao Phraya. It also shows river transport and includes some overland routes. The other side, painted in red, covers Cambodia, from the Mekong River Delta to Prachin Buri. This beautiful map is now digitized and available for download on the Library website. North is oriented to the bottom of the map.

Side by side image of front and back of Thai map. Left side is blue and right side is red.
Map on cloth showing central and southern Thailand, the Thai border with Burma, and Cambodia. Unknown, between 1767 and 1782. Geography and Map Division.

While the number of scans last year that went online could fill pages, unfortunately I can only share just a few with you in this post. But as we are continually making new scans available, do some exploring and see what you can find at!

Comments (3)

  1. The suffrage maps were fascinating. To see Pennsylvania with no suffrage in 1920 but then to be the 7th to ratify the amendment tells a tale. The will of the people must have been there but perhaps the legislation/legislators hadn’t kept up.

  2. Bonjour Madame Stoner,
    Ce billet sur les récentes numérisations de documents cartographiques par la Bibliothèque du Congrès est fort intéressant. Il favorise de nouvelles explorations des riches collections cartographiques de votre institution.
    Félicitations et bonne année 2024 !
    Claude Trudel

  3. I always enjoy these highlights of the newly digitized maps. It will be so nice to have access to the Hart-Bolton American History maps. We have been using the Woman Suffrage map (Image # 40, map A39) with the Manhood Suffrage maps (Image #39, map A38) with great success in the classroom. Thank you for digitizing the whole set!

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