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2021

Ahoy! This week we’re charting a course through the cartographic holdings at the National Archives.

Topographic map of St. Raphael Italy

Map of St. Raphael, Italy. National Archives Identifier 200235283

More than 15 million maps, charts, aerial photographs, architectural drawings, patents, and ship plans can be found in the cartographic and architectural holdings in College Park, Maryland.

The most recent Archives Hashtag Party hosted by the National Archives invited libraries, archives, and museums around the globe to feature some of their favorite maps and map-related records in #ArchivesYouAreHere. Jump on board with us as we navigate a selection of our favorites in this week’s newsletter!

Hand drawn image of a camouflage design for a cargo ship. Camouflage is painted in blue, black, pink, orange and green colors along the sides of the ship.

Camouflage Design for Cargo Ship. National Archives Identifier 6997120

One of the oldest items in our Cartographic holdings is the Polus Antarcticus atlas page. Published in the 1630s by Henricus Hondius, a Dutch cartographer and engraver, the map is one of the first to depict the South Pole area. Learn more on the Unwritten Record blog, Chronicling Cartographic’s Oldest Record: The Polus Antarcticus Map.

Illustrated atlas page of the Polus Antarcticus

Polus Antarcticus Illustrated Atlas Page , ca. 1649. National Archives Identifier 70187161

This sketch is illustration 19a from the 29th Infantry combat narrative by Lieutenant Jack Shea. The hand-drawn map representing the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944 shows the exit path of first troops, 0855 hrs, on Omaha Beach.

Hand drawn illustration of the Normandy Invasion on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944

Omaha-Dog-White, Exit Path of First Troops, 0855 Hrs., 6/6/1944. National Archives Identifier 6922052

One of our favorite maps isn't even of Earth: this star chart was used by the crew aboard Apollo 11.
Apollo 11 star chart. Black background with labeled stars

Star Chart from Apollo 11. National Archives Identifier 4958425

Black and white photograph of a bombadier standing next to his plane and holding a map. He smiles at the camera and points to the hole in his damaged plane.

Bombardier Lt. Plummer points out a hole in his Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress as he holds a damaged map. The holes were caused by flak that entered the plane, hit the bomb release switch, and dropped the bomb on the target below!

The original caption notes “This is probably the first time the Germans ever helped bomb themselves.” Plummer had just turned to speak to the navigator when the flak came through--a move that saved him from severe injury. National Archives Identifier 193731632

During World War I, French cartographers, part of the Service Géographique de L’armée, made maps in Paris. Our Still Picture Branch holds photos showing this part of the cartographic process. In this 1918 photo, a map of Le Bonhomme is made using a wet collodion plate. A copy of this very map is also part of our WWI cartographic records. National Archives Identifier 55204873

Black and white photograph of two French cartographers making a map of Le Bonhomme
Black and white photograph of a young man assembling street signs

Street signs are very important to know where you are! This National Youth Administration worker assembled street signs in Easthampton, Massachusetts, in 1941. National Archives Identifier 7350925

"Newsmap,” originally published weekly by the U.S. Army, was distributed to the military with news about World War II and the Korean War.

The front of each issue was usually a large map surrounded by news stories, smaller maps, and photographs. National Archives Identifier 66395583

Image of Armed Forces Newsmap, showing a world map in the middle, with pictures and news stories surrounding the map.

An Officer Of The 410Th Bomb Group Points To A Wall Map Showing The Target Of The Day During Briefing At A 9Th Air Force Base, England, 25 July 1944. National Archives Identifier 193737750

Black and white photograph of an officer pointing to a large map on the wall

How do I search the Catalog for maps and charts?

It is best to search the Catalog for a topic, name or phrase and then narrow down the search results using filters. You may need to do several different searches to find the records you are interested in.

  • You can review our Catalog Search Tips
  • If you are looking for a name or phrase, put those terms in quotations for the search, example “New York”
  • Search results bring back all formats of records. Use the filters on the left side to narrow your results to Maps and Charts
  • Not all of the descriptions in the Catalog include digitized records. To see those that have digital images in the Catalog, after conducting a search, use the filter on the left side to narrow your results to Archival Descriptions with Digital Objects
  • If you find a record you'd like to use, you can download it. For a video tutorial, please see How to Download Records from the National Archives Catalog
  • If you have a question about a description in the Catalog, reach out to the reference staff listed in the Contact(s) section.
Color image of a battleship disguised as an island.
Battleship Disguised as an Island. National Archives Identifier 6997114
Learn more about the cartographic records held at the National Archives:
Archives Hashtag PartyWe hope you enjoyed this week’s newsletter, inspired by our most recent Archives Hashtag Party! You’re always invited to join the party with us on social media. Follow the National Archives on Twitter and Instagram as we share highlights from collections around a different theme each month. Check out the archives, libraries, galleries, and museums participating so far, and join us for the next party on Friday, April 2 for #ArchivesTipOfTheHat!
Start your research on History Hub
Have a question? Find your answer here on History Hub! For those looking to conduct research or learn more about Cartographic and Architectural records and resources, we encourage you to browse recent posts and questions on History Hub. Recent posts include:
Color map of the area east and west of the Capitol in Washington, DC showing proposed development.
Proposed Development of the Central Area West and East of the Capitol. National Archives Identifier 6087998

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter

The National Archives is the home of the 19th Amendment, the Constitutional amendment that prohibited the states from denying the vote on the basis of sex. In 2020, the Archives commemorated the centennial of this landmark document.

Black and white photograph of a group of women nurses gathering together reading letters.
We invite you to continue exploring records that help tell the story of women’s rights and history, including the fight for the vote, and recognize the great contributions women have made to our nation throughout history.

This month we are highlighting a selection of the many trailblazing women throughout history whose stories can be found within the holdings of the National Archives.
A contingent of nurses arrive in the southwest Pacific area, received their first batch of home mail at 268th Station Hospital, Australia, 11/29/1943. National Archives Identifier 531410

Mae Jemison

Mission Specialist (MS) Mae Jemison poses in Spacelab-Japan (SLJ), facing forward.
Mae Carol Jemison became the first African American woman accepted into NASA’s space training program on June 4, 1987. Five years later, on September 12, 1992, she became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Learn more on the Pieces of History blog: Mae Jemison: First Black Woman in Space.

Mission Photographs Taken During the Space Shuttle Program , 4/12/1981 - 7/21/2011. STS-47, Mission Specialist Mae Jemison, 11/19/1998. National Archives Identifier 22725970

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett

Born enslaved in Mississippi in 1862, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett dedicated her life to fighting for racial and gender equality. She was a journalist, suffragist, advocate of racial justice, and anti-lynching activist.

In this letter to Republican Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts, Ida B. Wells appeals for justice in the lynching of Postmaster Frazier B. Baker and his two-year-old daughter, Julia, in South Carolina, in 1898. Learn more on the Rediscovering Black History blog post, The Honorable Agitator.

Page 1 of a handwritten letter from Ida B. Wells to Mr. Dawes
Page 2 of a handwritten letter from Ida B. Wells to Mr. Dawes

Letter from Ida B. Wells-Barnett to Mr. Dawes, 1898. National Archives Identifier 24746870

Jeannette Rankin

After helping to secure women the right to vote in Montana in 1914, Jeanette Rankin was the first woman to be sworn into Congress in April 1917. She served as a Representative from Montana's at-large district, from March 4, 1917 until March 3, 1919 and again as Representative from Montana's 1st district from January 3, 1941 until January 3, 1943.

Learn more on the Pieces of History blog: Women can’t vote, but they can run for Congress
Black and white still photograph from newsreel stock. Jeannette Rankin stands in a white dress among several other women

Still image from Motion Picture Newsreel Films Used for a Documentary Series on World War I, National Archives Identifier 89241

Shirley Chisholm

In 1969, Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to serve in Congress, representing New York's 12th Congressional District. She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971 and the Congressional Women's Caucus in 1977. Chisholm was also the first woman and the first African American to seek the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1972.

Learn more on the National Archives Featured Document Display: Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: “Unbought and Unbossed”

Photograph of rules committee sitting at their seats in Congress. Shirley Chisholm sits in the middle of the front row.

Photograph of the Rules Committee, 95th Congress, ca. 1977. National Archives, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Geraldine Ferraro

In 1984, Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale announced that Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of New York would be his running mate. Ferraro would make history as the first female Vice Presidential nominee for a major party.

Black and white photograph of Geraldine Ferraro talking with President Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter with Congresswomen, Geraldine Ferraro, 9/21/1978. National Archives Identifier 181476

Mary McLeod Bethune

As a presidential advisor of African American Affairs during the Roosevelt administration, Mary McLeod Bethune formed the Federal Council of Negro Affairs, which would become known as the Black Cabinet. The Black Cabinet was instrumental in creating jobs for African Americans in federal executive departments and New Deal agencies.

Mary McLeod Bethune shakes hands with a woman while Eleanor Roosevelt looks on
Bethune’s influence within the Roosevelt administration also allowed her to direct funds created by the New Deal program to Black people. Programs such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and National Youth Administration (NYA) were successful in employing over 300,000 African Americans during the Great Depression.

Mary McLeod Bethune, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and others at the opening of Midway Hall, 5/1943. National Archives Identifier 533032

Page from Mary McLeod Bethune's personnel file
Mary McLeod Bethune also currently has the honor of the only Official Personnel Folder digitized in the National Archives Catalog: Official Personnel Folder for Mary McLeod Bethune, National Archives Identifier 158329664

Help make this record more accessible through transcription! Visit our Citizen Archivist Dashboard to learn more how to register and get started.

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Amelia Earhart

Photograph of Amelia Earhart standing in front of an airplane
In 1922, Amelia Earhart set a record for reaching the highest altitude for a woman pilot, flying to 14,000 feet. Six years later, Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. In the following 10 years, Earhart continued to set aviation records for speed and distance. She also helped create a women’s aviation club, the Ninety-Nines, and was elected the first president. The organization still exists today and works to promote female pilots.

Amelia Earhart, 7/30/1936. National Archives Identifier 6708609

Learn more on the Pieces of History blog, Amelia Earhart: Showing What Women Can Do – Pieces of History and explore more records relating to Amelia Earhart on our website.
Page 1 of a typewritten letter from Amelia Earhart to President Roosevelt
Page 2 of a typewritten letter from Amelia Earhart to President Roosevelt

Letter from Amelia Earhart to President Roosevelt Regarding her World Flight, 11/10/1936. National Archives Identifier 6705943

Start your research on History Hub

Have a question? Find your answer here on History Hub!

For those looking to conduct research or learn more about Women’s History records and resources, we encourage you to browse recent posts and questions on the Women's Rights and Suffrage community. Recent posts include:

Black and white photograph of a group of women welders breaking for lunch
Records of the War Manpower Commission, 1936 - 1951. Student Welders Having Lunch. National Archives Identifier 192810599
These are just a few of the many stories of trailblazing women that can be found within the holdings of the National Archives. We invite you to explore more! Learn more through our online resources:
Black and white photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt speaking with Marian Anderson

Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson in Japan, 5/22/1953. National Archives Identifier 195989

New Transcription Mission!
Screenshot of the Carded Service Records transcription mission

Carded Service Records of Hospital Attendants, Matrons and Nurses, 1861 - 1865.

Help us transcribe records relating to the service of hospital attendants, matrons and nurses.

Would you like to transcribe these records more efficiently? Try using our template for transcription! These records consist of a standard typewritten form with handwritten details. We’ve created a template for the standard typewritten form found on each card, so you can simply copy and paste the template in the transcription field, and then type in the remaining details.

Find the template and learn more on History Hub.

Women's History Collection on GIPHY

Have you seen our Women’s History collection on GIPHY?  Find historic footage of Suffrage Marchers, Pioneering Women, and more!

Animated gif of suffrage marchers protesting by their prison train

Suffrage marchers, protesting by their prison train

It’s just one of several new GIF collections in the National Archives’ GIPHY channel, which just surpassed 3 Billion total cumulative views! 

Screenshot of the Women's History collection on the National Archives GIPHY channel

The channel features hundreds of vintage animated GIFs featuring everything from fun retro patents to famous prominent Americans.

Animated gif of a one-wheeled velocipede patent
One-Wheeled Velocipede Patent
Animated gif of Amelia Earhart waving from her airplane
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart

The Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis. Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter