Free mapping resources on the internet

Here’s a collection of links to map resources that I have found useful. I’ve listed only completely free, unrestricted sources. Quite a lot of sites let you look at the map and scroll around, but if you want your own copy there’s a charge for download, or restrictions on use, even if the map itself is in the public domain. OK, they have costs to cover, but plenty of sources are really free! Here’s some of them.

I’ll not try to summarise copyright, beyond saying that for UK and Ireland Crown/Government copyright expires 50 years after publication, so anything dated 1968 or earlier is free. For most US Government works, material is free of copyright, period.

Great Britain and Ireland Ordnance Survey.

The great resource here is Wikimedia Commons. Lots of maps at a variety of scales are available for download as image files, usually at high resolution. Complete sets are available of

One-inch Seventh Series of Great Britain (1952-)

One-inch Old/First Series of England and Wales

One-inch Old/First Series of Scotland

Quarter-inch Fifth Series of Great Britain (1962-)

There are partial (and growing) series of the Popular Edition of Scotland, the New Popular Edition of England and Wales (one-inch); one-inch and half-inch maps of Ireland; and lots of tourist, historical and geological maps.

Admiralty Charts

Admiralty charts covered most parts of the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – many thousands of titles were published. They are highly detailed, and many of them are superb examples of the engraver’s art. Wikimedia Commons has over 2200 of these titles, and they cover a wide range – all over the world and dating from the early 1800s to the 1960s.

Admiralty Charts on Wikimedia Commons

US Coast Survey Charts

Here’s a collection of nautical charts of the United States, mostly from the mid 19th century, including some lovely hand-coloured ones. Wikimedia scores again!

US Coast Survey Charts from Wikimedia Commons

Library of Congress

The US Library of Congress is an enormous historical resource, and maps are only a small proportion, but that’s still a lot. They are generally well-scanned at high resolution. Go for the tiff download, which is always the highest resolution – you can always shrink it later!

Maps in the Library of Congress

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas

This has a huge number of maps, both current and historical

Digital Commonwealth, Massachusetts

Like LOC, not specifically focussed on maps, but they have a lot. This is an umbrella site for a variety of library resources in Massachusetts.

Maps on the Digital Commmonwealth

US Geological Survey

In spite of its name, the USGS is not just about geology, it provides topographic maps of the whole of the USA. Check out the

Historical Topographic Map Collection

US Historical Charts

The US Office of Coast Survey has nautical charts of US coasts, as well as aeronautical charts and other historical materials, from the 19th Century to fairly recent ones.

Office of Coast Survey’s Historical Map & Chart Collection

And more

Here’s a site that lists many sources, including some of those above, and others I haven’t checked out. Worth a look

Free Geography Tools

Happy Exploring!