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BEV BUTULA: American Geographical Society Library

Did you know that UW Milwaukee is home to the American Geographical Society Library? I had the pleasure of hearing one of their librarians speak yesterday. The talk was a fascinating exploration of the library’s physical and online collection of maps, atlases, journals, and photographs.

Their cartographic collection contains over 500,000 maps dating back to 1452.They also house over 120 globes and an extensive group of wall maps. The photographic collection consists of “nearly 440,000 photographs and slides” documenting “themes such as early western exploration, early aerial exploration, the world’s physical features, its peoples and its cultural landscapes.”

The AGS library also digitized a select group of their collection and offers access via their website. For example, the American Geographical Society Digital Map Collection “contains over 700 maps, ranging from early maps of Asia to historical maps of Wisconsin and Milwaukee, and other American cities, states, and national parks.” They also offer a variety of digitized maps and images of China.

Another online collection is the City of Milwaukee Sanborn Insurance Maps for 1894 & 1910. The Sanborn Maps include “construction material of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories, fire walls, windows, doors, style and composition of roofs, wall thickness, cracks in exterior walls, elevator locations, building uses, sidewalk and street widths, layout and ownership names, property boundaries, distance between buildings, house and block numbers, location of water mains, hydrants, piping, wells, cisterns, and fuel storage tanks.”

Check your local public library for availability of Sanborn Insurance maps in your area.

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One comment

  1. Hundreds of historical Wisconsin maps are also online at the Wisconsin Historical Society, here:

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