Repository:David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Repository David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is one of the world's largest private map collections. It has some 150,000 maps and cartographic items. The collection was created by David Rumsey who, after making his fortune in real estate, focused on collecting 18th- and 19th century maps of North and South America, as this era "saw the rise of modern cartography."

There are now over 55,000 digitized maps available through his website,, and about 150 of which are currently being hosted through Google Earth layers. Select maps are also featured at the Rumsey Maps island in Second Life. as well as 2D and 3D GIS. A new MapRank search tool has been added enabling geographical searching of about 12,000 maps from the collection by map location and coverage. The website has additional viewers from Luna Imaging, Inc, most popular being the LUNA browser which doesn’t require any special plug-ins or software to view the collection, zoom into image detail, create slide shows, media groups, presentations and more.

The website also has a blog listing new additions to the collection, featured maps, news, videos, and related sites.

In February 2009, David Rumsey announced that the entire collection would be donated to Stanford University, including 150,000 maps and their digital images, as well as the database used to track the images. Stanford will house the collection in a new David Rumsey Map Center to be built in the main library. The web site (where the images are posted on-line) will continue as a separate public resource.


This repository is better known simply as "The David Rumsey Collection".

From the "about" description of the : David Rumsey Map Collection Site

Ireland.  Sidney and Hall 1785.   Click for Presentation
Ireland. Sidney and Hall 1785.
Click for Presentation
The David Rumsey Collection was started nearly 20 years ago, and focuses primarily on cartography of the Americas from the 18th and 19th centuries, but also has maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, globes, school geographies, books, maritime charts, and a variety of separate maps, including pocket, wall, children's and manuscript. Digitization of the project began in 1997. The project was undertaken for numerous reasons: Maps are uniquely suitable to high-resolution scanning because they contain large amounts of detailed information, which can be seen more readily when the viewer is able to zoom in and enlarge images on a computer screen.

Viewed over the Internet, rare maps become available to those who previously had no access to such collections or were not aware of the maps' existence. In their original form, maps and atlases can be large, delicate, and unwieldy. Digitization increases their accessibility, and combined with an online catalog allows the viewer a variety of ways to search the collection.

Presenting individual maps in a digital format literally breaks the boundaries of an atlas's bookbinding, allowing the viewer to view single maps independent of their original encasing. With Luna Imaging's Insight® software, the maps are experienced in a revolutionary way. Multiple maps from different time periods can be viewed side-by-side. Or, the end user can create their own collection of maps by saving groups of images that hold particular interest. Complete cataloging data accompanies every image, allowing for in-depth searches of the collection.

Materials that were created in America and that illustrate the evolution of the country's history, culture, and population distinguish the collection. Close inspection of the maps often reveals the rise and fall of towns, mining excavations, the unfolding of the railroads, and the "discovery" of the American West by European explorers. The collection also includes European imprints containing maps of the Americas that were influential to American cartographers, as well as maps of other parts of the world distinguished by great craftsmanship, significance and beauty.

A more detailed description of the evolution of the physical collection into the online collection can be found in "State of the Art," an article that originally appeared in Mercators World Magazine.

A recent news item reported on the [ APG list]:

David Rumsey, retired Bay Area real estate developer, has donated his collection of "150,000 maps, atlases, and cartographic items such as globes" to Stanford University, "which will create a repository for a complete set of digital images." Stanford Magazine, May/June 2009, Vol. 38, No. 3, p. 29. Stanford Alumni Association: Stanford, CA.

Terms of Use

The David Rumsey Collection contains a great many period map images of interest to genealogists for illustrating articles. These images are available for use under the following terms of use:

Terms of Use as of 19 April 2009

Images copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates. Images may be reproduced or transmitted, but not for commercial use. For commercial use or commercial republication, contact This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. By downloading any images from this site, you agree to the terms of that license.

Use Suggstions

Images in the David Rumsey collection have broad utility for genealogists interested in "enlivening" a page on WeRelate. Most of the images are high quality scans of the original. Better quality images can be obtained by downloading the original, rather than useing screen capture techniques. Many of the images,such as that for the map of Ireland illustrating this article, are shown "as bound" in the original document. Such images can be used as is, but it may be more useful to crop the image to exclude extraneous materials, such as book covers and page margins.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.