David Rumsey has been collect historical maps; has more than 100,000 atlases, wall and pocket maps, sea maps and globes of the entire world from the 1550s onwards. But, and this is the important thing, in 1996 he also began to digitize and publish this collection for free on the Internet.
The website (davidrumsey.com) has won major awards over the past decade (such as the 2002 Webby Award for Technical Achievement), and its blog also allows learn more about the history of some of the small jewels that the collection containsin addition to being aware of news about complementary material and similar websites.
Let’s review some of the tools provided by this useful website to manage the maps it contains:
Luna Viewer is the default thumbnail-based collection viewer that allows you to browse all the digitized contents of the same through categories (based on time, author, represented world area and support), and search for them using keywords.
From this interface we can download the images in different resolutions, save them in groups (if we are registered users) and even create widgets that allow us to embed the map On a website.
Georeferencer v4 is a recent addition to the web collection. And one of its great attractions: allows you to view historical maps overlaid on modern maps (or other historical maps) with a high level of accuracy.
Not all maps are georeferenced, but the tool also allows us to help to that task, indicating the points on an old map that correspond to your current location.
History and geography experts and buffs can turn to Georeferencer to detect all kinds of changes in a region overtime.
MapRank is a tremendously useful map search tool that allows us to find the closest digitized historical maps to a given point of a current map (and at a similar scale).
Next to the Google Maps map, we will see a column with all the compatible historical maps, and when we hover over one of them the area it covers will be displayed. The tool also allows us to delimit the historical period.
Other tools provided by this website allow you to view a limited number of maps of the same (120) superimposed on the current ones… but within Google Earth or Google Maps. Other tools allow you to view them within Second Life or in your own installable application for Windows and Mac.
An earlier version of this article was published in 2021.