Atlas – Historic Maps

Historic maps can be both informative and artistically enhanced

Historic maps were generally not to scale but importantly showed the existence of places such as towns and the names of geographical elements such as rivers and mountains. A huge mistake made by many unaware historic map users is to assume the dates on the map correlate with the contemporary geography. The fact is that some maps were copied over and over again for years after they originated, reproduced and distributed long after Indian towns had moved or been destroyed, old trails abandoned and new roads cut out. Therefore, a careful analysis and comparison of the history of a particular map is basic to research. Most university, state and and federal archives such as the Library of Congress have extensive background on the author(s), dates and revisions and/or plagiarisms included with accurate citations. Note that early Native American towns and/or place names may have a dozen different spellings in several languages: English, French, Spanish, Dutch, or German, etc.
For starters, some of the best repositories for collecting maps are:

American Memories, Library of Congress

David Rumsey Historic Map Collection

University of North Carolina Historic Map Collection

Hargrett Rare Map & Manuscripts

NC State Archives (any state archives will likely hold valuable maps and surveys)

This 1597 detail of Florida et Apalache might be the earliest with the Cherokee noted: "Chalaqua"


1725 Trade Map by John Herbert, Indian Agent