Historical Topographic Maps - Preserving the Past
In 2009, USGS began the release of a new generation of topographic maps (US Topo) in electronic form, and is now complementing them with the release of high-resolution scans of more than 178,000 historical topographic maps of the United States. The topographic map remains an indispensable tool for everyday use in government, science, industry, land management planning, and leisure.
As physical and cultural features change over time, maps are updated, revised and new editions printed. While out of date, historical maps are often useful to scientists, historians, environmentalists, genealogists and others researching a particular geographic location or area. A series of maps of the same area published over a period of time can show how an area looked before development and provide a detailed view of changes over time.
The goal of the Historical Topographic Map Collection is to scan all scales and all editions of the more than 193,000 topographic maps published by the USGS since the inception of the topographic mapping program in 1884. The National Geospatial Program (NGP) is accurately cataloging and creating metadata to accompany high-resolution, georeferenced digital files representing the legacy lithographic maps. These maps are either no longer available for distribution in print or are being replaced by the new generation of US Topo maps; however, they hold the potential to become chronological layers of The National Map. The potential for research that documents change over time is becoming increasingly recognized by the geospatial community, and this project will provide previously published lithographic USGS maps in digital form.
Objectives of the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection are:
- Develop and publish specifications for scanning maps;
- Inventory, summarize, and create metadata for all topographic maps published by the USGS;
- Prioritize and scan historical paper maps;
- Develop methods for accurate and efficient georeferencing of scanned images;
- Archive files with National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress; and
- Provide publicly accessible metadata and downloadable and viewable files of all scanned maps.
- Find My Map !!
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