Mapping It Out— 3 Old Map Collections Every Family Researcher Needs To Explore

A notebook, binoculars, Polaroid pictures, and a camera over an old map

While we all may dream of getting our hands on a treasure map with a big “X” marking a chest of jewels, there are more real maps that can be invaluable sources of information for thoseinterested in digging deep into the past.

Maps are teeming with information. This is why historians and other professionals like genealogists prize maps because of the vast data they can get out of them for their research and studies.

Old maps are like a pot of gold when it comes to uncovering details. They can reflect the history of the subject matter they cover – how much places have changed, and offer insight into the people who lived there.. Family history researchers value significant maps as they often provide valuable clues the past.


Whether you’re doing  genealogy as a hobby, or researching someone’s family history, maps will be one of the best things you can  consult! In this blog, we feature three old map collections that may reward you with an immense amount of information:

1. The U.S. Library of Congress’ Map Collection

This is one of the most authentic and free sources for old historical maps. From the Civil War to the National Parks, this collection will provide you with a diverse selection of maps. Whether you choose to visit the Library of Congress or view them online, these maps will surely hit the target in your research.

2. David Rumsey Map Collection

David Rumsey began his collection more than 35 years ago, and this database now has over 150,000 maps. Among the collection, the eras included are the Americas from the 16th to the 21st century and maps from other regions of the world as well like Africa, Asia, Europe, etc.

This collection also includes an array of specialized materials for cartography purposes

A collection of old maps


3. NHGIS: The National Historical Geographic Information System

This is a geographical information system database that houses U.S. census results and related data from the year 1790 to the year 2010. The collection also stores a statistical and graphical representation of the population and housing, agricultural development, as well as economic data. This is one of the world’s largest census collections which is freely available to the public.

In the past, because of issues with different formats, these maps were difficult for researchers to access them easily and utilize to their full potential. The NHGIS recently solved this problem by creating a centralized online access system which largely eliminated these issues.


If you’re experiencing difficulties sourcing material, or just need an expert’s help, reach out to Davis DNA and Family Research. We provide traditional, investigate, DNA and family history research and online forensic genealogy services.. Our expert team can help you discover your family history and offer expert DNA research assistance. Reach out to us today to learn more about our range of services..