The Internet has, by and large, replaced all other media as the best means to research any conceivable topic. Face it, why would you want to go to a library and physically search for books, when you can get everything you need, and more, from the comfort of your home, with search engines that can comb trillions of articles and research papers to bring you the information you need within seconds. It is faster, more efficient, and for most parts, much cheaper than all other forms of researching.
However, if you are a student of history, or a cartographer, or if your hobby is pouring over maps, you will probably have noticed that the internet doesn’t really come up with a lot of good results, when you search for historical maps, especially if you are looking for maps of a specific region and era.
Of course, if you are willing to pay, there is a solution for everything. A lot of sites can provide you with exactly the maps you need, for a hefty fee. These websites mostly concentrate on selling print rather than sharing soft copies, so unless you are willing to fork up, you cannot access them
So is there no solution for a student on a budget who is looking high quality historical maps for free. Relax, as we said, the internet has a solution for everything! We bring you, not one, but three sites where you can find rare and excellent maps:
Slick technology meets a wide and deep range of accurate map data in this amazing new site that seems to be a cartographer’s dream. Data collected from online sources such as the David Rumsey Map Collection, A Vision of Britain through Time, the Moravian Library, and many other trusted sources, is presented in high resolution and every square inch of the globe seems to have been covered. Each location has up to thirty maps, covering the entire period of their civilized history, with one map for each period.
The home page of the site is a huge and detailed map of the whole world, from which you can select the region for which you need a map. The chronological filter at the top of the map makes your work really easy, because all you have to do is drag the pointer to the year of your choice.
This collection of maps, hosted by the University of Texas, is nothing too complex or sophisticated; it is merely a group of maps that have been scanned to digital files. The collection is much smaller than that of Old maps Online, and does not offer any tools to jump from one region or time period to another. But the maps are high resolution, and often come with a multitude of old world information that is missing in digitally created maps. This site is ideal for researchers who want to get the feel of a real map of the time concerned.
We are betting this one caught you off guard, but think about it. Flickr is a treasure house for all sorts of images, so why not maps? Check out the Old Maps group, and it is very likely that you find something interesting. However, this option is mainly for hobbyists who just like to look at maps. Serious researchers would do better on the more organized sites we mentioned above.