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Research Guides

Maps as Primary Sources

Maps provide information you can't always get from a text source. Maps symbolize a particular place at a particular time. It is important to keep in mind that maps are not a mirror of reality -- the creator of a map chooses what to include and how to depict a certain place within the conventions of the cartography of the times.

Help: Making Sense of Maps

Digitized Map Collections

Printed maps can be found in the Map Collection located on the ground floor of Suzzallo Library. The Map Collection has original copies of pre-1960 maps as well as a collection of historical atlases. For information see their description of Historic Maps. Historic maps, as well as Krolls and Metsker atlases of the region, can also be found in Special Collections. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the Pacific Northwest are available on microfilm in the Microform & Newspaper Collections. Sanborn maps are available digitially via Seattle Public Library (public library card required). For links to additional digitized collections of historic maps see Old Maps Online and  Images of Early Maps on the Web. The Map Library also has an extensive collection of aerial photographs of the region from 1944 to the present.