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Research Guides

Printed Maps

The Map Collection has original copies of pre-1960 maps as well as a collection of historical atlases. Printed historic maps can be found in the Map collection located on the ground floor of Suzzallo Library. The map case is labelled "Historic Map Case" and is located in the NW quadrant of the floor.  The case is locked so you will need to stop by the Help desk located on that floor (towards Allen Library) to get the case open. Scanners and printers (up to 11x17 size) are available to make copies.

Additional historic maps, including Krolls, Metsker and Baist's real estate atlases of the region, can be found in Special Collections.

The Map Library also has an extensive collection of aerial photographs of the region from 1944 to the present.  Use the University of Washington Aerials Viewer to identify collections of these photos. For additional help using the map collection contact Matt Parsons at

City Directories

Special Collections has a large collection of city directories from the Puget Sound region and a selection from other areas in the Pacific Northwest.  "City directories are comparable to phone directories, but have more information. Also called business directories or gazeteers, they provide information about the occupations, residential addresses, and spouses of city residents, and list employees of businesses. Beginning in 1939, the directories include a "reverse" section describing the residents and businesses on each street."

Maps as Historical Evidence


  • Maps provide a spatial dimension and can reveal aspects of a neighborhood that may not be visible at first glance such as transport networks and environmental dimensions.

Keep in mind

  • Different kinds of maps provide different kinds of information -- a fire insurance map is different from a topographical map.  
  • 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 cartographic conventions of the times. Maps are created for specific purposes.

For more information on using maps see: Making Sense of MapsMap Analysis Worksheet & Learning to do Historical Research: Maps