These atlases are the most complete collection of data for each county (all Washington; some Oregon and Idaho). Each page is a township map covering approximately 36 square miles. Scales vary from 2" to the mile with most counties and 4" to the mile for others in congested areas (1/4 townships). Most atlases do not show complete county coverage due to government holdings, national forest and parks, wilderness areas etc. Property names are provided for owners of five acres or more plus showing smaller lots and plats as well. (Source: Metsker Maps Publishing)
The Sanborn map collection consists of a uniform series of large-scale maps, dating from 1867 to the present and depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The maps were designed to assist fire insurance agents in determining the degree of hazard associated with a particular property and therefore show the size, shape, and construction of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories as well as fire walls, locations of windows and doors, sprinkler systems, and types of roofs. The maps also indicate widths and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. They show the locations of water mains, giving their dimensions, and of fire alarm boxes and hydrants. Sanborn maps are thus an unrivaled source of information about the structure and use of buildings in American cities. Maps also found on microfilm in the Suzzallo Library's Microform department. Seattle Public Library users may also access them online.
Source of description: UC Berkeley's Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps page.
Also on microfiche. Also available online via the Bureau of Land Management. A cadaster is a public record, survey, or map of the value, extent, and ownership of land as a basis of taxation. Cadastral surveys began in 1851 for the Washington and Oregon areas. They were done by the General Land Office as part of the Federal Public Land Survey System. The microfiche set contains original plat maps that show legal boundary descriptions, and shows terrain and landmarks, such as trees and cabins. Know the township(s) and range(s) for your area of interest.
This site is a collaboration between Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections at the Washington State University and Special Collections and the Map Collection at the University of Washington Libraries. Spanning three hundred years, the site includes maps of explorers such as Lewis and Clark, documents ownership struggles and boundary disputes in the region, shows the development of one of the last frontiers on the continent, and demonstrates the efforts of the U.S. government to survey the land.
David Rumsey is a private collector of rare historic maps who has created an online database of scanned maps for public use. "The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 10,000 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented." The images can be viewed and downloaded in unusually high detail.
Although the Library of Congress has converted only a small fraction of its huge cartographic holdings to digital form, it is still an impressive collection. Themes include cities and towns, conservation, military battles, etc. Browse for maps by geographic region, subject, creator, title, or keyword. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be possible to search by date range.
Digital images of maps that appeared in Congressional publications. "The more than 50,000 maps in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set range from the great atlases to small individual maps clarifying very specific land questions, to the great triangulation surveys, to the repetitive but for the meteorologist important weekly weather maps, to the maps that made history as well as the maps of past history and of course to the purely serendipitous, or so it would seem, maps found in the Serial Set."
Catalog Search Tips: Historic Maps
Use a KEYWORDS search.
Limit the Year fields to the range you are looking for. There are two caveats about using Year fields:
The year represents the year that a particular map was published. If the map is a reproduction of an older map, the date will be when the new map was published, not when the original was created.
The Year fields are not always reliable. They do not accurately sort any date which is uncertain (a date with a question mark: 1970?, a dash: 197-, or both: 197-?).
If you cannot find what you are looking for, leave the Year fields blank and try again.
Many historic maps are in Special Collections and other areas, not just in the Map Collection. Therefore, be sure to leave the Location field blank.
In the text box, type in your geographic area and a subject keyword if you are looking for something specific and "maps." Ex. Year:1800 1899 Washington State AND railroads AND maps
The Historic Map Cases are not accessible to the public. You must ask staff to bring you maps in your area of interest.
Related Terms & Definitions
A map is considered historic if:
It was published before 1960;
It is a previous (superceded) edition of a USGS Washington State 7.5 minute, 15 minute, or 30 minute topographic map; OR
It is in poor condition or in need of preservation.
Historic Maps & The Collection
The Map Collection has an extensive collection of topographic maps of Washington state. Although we do not actively collect older maps, we do make occasional exceptions for good older maps of Washington state.