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

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