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Historical Maps

​​Search the Clarke Historical Map Database


As a visual representation of the relationships between spaces, maps can be guides for our travels, a new perspective on our current location, or tools that give us information about far off places. Historical maps add a layer of time, showing us how people envisioned the relationships between spaces before the era of the Global Positioning System or even aerial photography. The historical maps found in the holdings of the Clarke Historical Library document the evolution of how Michigan, the Great Lakes, North America, and the World have been viewed over the past 500 years.

Part of the collection of maps held at the Clarke was brought together by William Lee Jenks. Jenks was a Port Huron lawyer, banker, and businessman who devoted his leisure time to the study of history. He advocated for the creation of the Port Huron Public Library and was a member of the Michigan Historical Commission, including a stint as president. His work with Louis Karpinski and the Michigan Historical Commission on a bibliography of historical maps of Michigan led to the creation of a 1931 volume that remains a valuable resource in the study of Michigan and Great Lakes cartography.

Maps_Using.jpgThe database of over 300 maps, accessible via the link below, provides basic information about each of the maps in the Clarke holdings including the creator, title, date, description, known bibliographic citations, and a low-resolution image. The database is searchable via single or compound keywords (e.g. Detroit or Lake Michigan), but cannot be searched for multiple unrelated words or phrases. For more information about any of the maps found in this database, please contact the Clarke.

Clarke Historical Map Database

Bibliographies cited include:

Burden, Philip D. The mapping of North America: a list of printed maps, 1511-1670. Rickmansworth, UK: Raleigh Publications, 1996.

Cumming, William Patterson. The Southeast in early maps. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1958.

Goss, John. The mapping of North America: three centuries of map-making, 1500-1860. Secaucus, NJ: Wellfleet Press, 1990.

Howes, Wright. U.S.iana (1650-1950): A Selective Bibliography in which are Described 11,620 Uncommon and Significant Books Relating to the Continental Portion of the United States. New York: Bowker for the Newberry Library, 1962.

Karpinski, Louis Charles. Bibliography of the printed maps of Michigan, 1804-1880. Amsterdam: Meridian Pub. co., 1977.

Karrow, Robert W. Checklist of printed maps of the Middle West to 1900. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981-1983.

Lowery, Woodbury. A descriptive list of maps of the Spanish possessions within the present limits of the United States, 1502-1820. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1912.

McCorkle, Barbara B. New England in early printed maps, 1513-1800: an illustrated carto-bibliography. Providence: The John Carter Brown Library, 2001.

Phillips, Philip Lee. A list of maps of America in the Library of Congress; preceded by a list of works relating to cartography. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901.

Ristow, Walter W. American maps and mapmakers: commercial cartography in the nineteenth century. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985.

Sabin, Joseph. Biblioteca americana. A dictionary of books relating to America, from its discovery to the present time. Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1961.

Sellers, John and Patricia Molen Van Ee. Maps and charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750-1789. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1981.

Streeter, Floyd Benjamin. Michigan bibliography. A partial catalogue of books, maps, manuscripts and miscellaneous materials relating to the resources, development and history of Michigan from earliest times to July 1, 1917; Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission, 1921.

Tooley, R. V. The Mapping of the America. London: Holland Press, Ltd., 1988.

Verner, Coolie and Basil Stuart-Stubbs. The northpart of America. Academic Press Canada, 1979.

Wheat, Carl Irving. Mapping the Transmississippi West, 1540-1861. San Francisco: Institute of Historical Cartography, 1957.