Library: Library Collections
The map collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society consists of approximately 2,500 maps and charts including many manuscript maps. While the largest portion of these are maps of the city of Boston, Massachusetts, and New England, from its beginning the Society has collected maps that illustrate the history and development of the entire United States.
Highlights of the Map Collection
Special collections of maps include the Francis Russell Hart Collection of maps of the West Indies and Central America and a large set of charts from Joseph F. W. Des Barres's Atlantic Neptune as well as some of the printing plates from which the charts were made. The Society has a large collection of 18th- and 19th-century pocket travel maps, many of which were removed from manuscript collections. The Samuel C. Clough collection consists of manuscript maps and atlas plates Clough prepared during the early part of this century for a massive topographical history of Boston that he was never able to finish.
All manuscript maps, and many early (pre-1820) maps and atlases have been cataloged in ABIGAIL. For the bulk of the collection, researchers may use a card index of the map collection in the MHS reading room. It may also be useful to consult Maps and Charts Published in America before 1800, by James Clements Wheat and Christian F. Brun (1969), a bibliography that can serve as a reference guide to a portion of the MHS collection.