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Map collections

Find out more about cartographic resources in the IHR Wohl Library. Covering all parts of the world, the collections include sheet maps, atlases, gazetteers and guides.

maps

Introduction

Sheet maps and drawings

The Library has a collection of sheet maps, stored in the map cabinet in the Foyle room alcove (classmark M). For anyone studying particularly the history of London and its surrounding counties, these are an excellent resource. The collection also includes various maps of other English counties, and other parts of Great Britain. Alongside the maps are various views and drawings and a few architectural sketches, mostly from the London Topographical Society.

Atlases and bound editions of maps

Map holdings in the rest of the IHR's collections are shelved according by subject area and are therefore spread across the library. Most of the geographical collections have a separate place for maps, although maps in particular subjects may be shelved according to the subject rather than material type. The following are a few examples, please ask for further help if you are interested in any particular collection not covered here.

Highlights from the Collections

Sheet map collection

These are stored in the map cabinet in the Foyle room alcove. Classmarks begin with M and are in the format M/country/county/year (e.g. M/Eng/Ken/1779 for a 1779 map of Kent). Classmarks for London maps start M/Eng/Lon, broken down into sub-locations where necessary. 

The earliest cartographic materials include facsimiles of maps of Great Britain from the early fourteenth century, through many representing London in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, into the twentieth century. Some of the oversized maps are in closed access. The following can be requested from the onsite store:

General British: There are several items at classmark BB.087, including some general atlases and compilations of historical maps.

London collection: A number of bound maps at classmark BL/BLL.1 and in the map drawers, including:

Ireland: Most items are at classmark BI.083, including the Irish historic towns atlas.
Scotland: Most items are at classmark BS.156 (guides are at B.0724)
Wales: Most items are at classmark BW.156 (guides are at BW.0724)

English Local History: There are numerous maps stored in the various English local collections. They are shelved within the individual county collections, and also in the general local history section where there are many historic itineraries, guides and directories covering travel by road, railway and canal.

General European material is at classmark E.243. Individual country's classification schemes tend to have a section for maps, for example French history at EF.15, Germany at EG.095, Spain at ES.16. Some are shelved with the local/regional subsection, and others by subject. Here are some examples:

To compliment any study into the geography of Britain or further afield, there are various other libraries and institutions in London that can help any research in this area. The following locations house extensive map collections:

  • Layers of London:  a free, historical and geographical resource where you can explore historic map layers over the contemporary map of London.
  • The British Library has an extensive collection of maps including the Crace Collection which consists of around 1200 manuscript and printed maps of London.
  • The Guildhall Library has a collection of London maps.
  • The Royal Geographical Society is the most authoritative body in London on maps and surveys and houses one of the world’s largest private map collections.
  • Senate House Library map collection.

Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.

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