Western History / Genealogy > Maps and Atlases

Maps and Atlases

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The Library's historical map collection documents a wide range of locales, time frames, and themes, providing information about mining, land use, road development, and political boundaries.

Many rare, historic maps of Colorado and the West are available for use in the Western History / Genealogy Department's W.S. Jackson Family Map Area.

Though our maps focus primarily on the Western United States, we have historical maps of every state in the Union.

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Father Kino, a Franciscan Monk, produced this 18th century map of the Gulf of California, which established the fact that California was a peninsula, not an island.


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Maps show the development of the West, from small-town details to large scale travel routes.


Some of the Library's notable maps include a complete bound volume of the 1597 Abraham Orteleus atlas, a 1692 map of California, a 1606 Gastaldi map of Europe, and the 1574 Sebastian Muenster map of the western hemisphere, the first to show the isthmus connecting North and South America.

Our Colorado map collection is especially developed and includes the Fosdick 1859 map of Denver, Jefferson Territory, the 1862 Central City map, and both editions of the Hayden Survey Atlas of Colorado.

Fire insurance maps provide valuable clues to building researchers, and our collection includes the Sanborn maps of Denver and Colorado towns dating from 1887 and real estate atlases by Baist and by Robinson.

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Our rare maps and oversized items are available to researchers by request. Some of our maps date from periods of the earliest exploration. Our maps are encapsulated in archival mylar and stored in spacious maple drawers, accessible to the public.

Our map collection has been acquired by donations, endowments, purchases, and extractions from government documents in the Library's collection. Encapsulation began in 1980, providing excellent protection for rare and valuable items. Our largest piece is a 12 foot by 58 inch, hand-colored map of the Aspen, Colorado area, published by the Colorado Midland Railway.


Types of maps in the collection:

  • Explorers' maps
  • Trails and trade routes
  • Property and street maps
  • Illustrated atlases, and birdseye maps
  • Forest Service and National Park maps
  • Fire insurance maps
  • Railroad maps
  • Aerial maps
  • Road maps

Detail from an atlas of the New World


You can search our map collection with the Denver Public Library's catalog. Use terms like "maps," "trails," "county name," "railroads," and "mining" etc.

For Research Questions, Ask Us.


Western History / Genealogy Department
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