World and Regional Maps Collection, 16th to 19th Centuries
[For more information on all the features of this collection, take this introductory tour.]
In an essay on the history of cartography, scholar J. B. Harley writes,
Whether or not one is a devoted scholar of cartography, one can always marvel at the beauty, scale and just plain oddities of rare maps and their relationship to the spaces they illustrate and information they convey. From mythical sea beasts and unexplored areas to the carving up of the “New World” by colonial powers, rare maps demonstrate not only changes in geographical knowledge but change occurring in Western civilization’s conception of itself.
Combining large-scale scanning techniques, ContentDM JPEG 2000 software, and scholarly research on each map’s creation and context, this database allows researchers to access over 170 color digital images of examples from the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections Division’s Rare Map Collection. Maps included date from the sixteenth to early twentieth centuries with coverage spanning: the world, Western and Eastern Hemispheres, continents, countries and cities. Of note this collection emphasizes North America, the Pacific Northwest, and exploration in this region from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A number of these maps depict the fabled Northwest Passage between Asia and North America with interesting variations on Alaska’s coastline as well as apocryphal accounts of the Sea of the West and the Northwest coast.
Also important are approximately 35 maps showcasing the work of eighteenth-century French cartographer, Guillaume de L'Isle. Another significant collection of maps are taken from the atlas, “Atlantis Geographicus Maior” by Matthaeus Seutter. Additionally, a small number of bird’s-eye maps depicting cities in the Pacific Northwest (i.e. Seattle, Victoria and Tacoma) are represented.
To view details in individual maps, scroll to the "detailed view" link below the map.
Interactive map (scroll over to select regional maps to view)
*Harley, J. B. “The Map and the Development of the History of Cartography.” In _The History of Cartography Volume 1: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean_. Eds. J.B. Harley and David Woodward. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. 1-42.