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This collection of more than 100,000 historical maps allows you to download them in HD … and view them superimposed on current maps

25 mayo, 2021

David Rumsey has been collecting historical maps; has more than 100,000 atlases, wall and pocket maps, sea charts and globes from around the world from the 1550s onwards. But, and this is the relevant thing, in 1996 it also began to digitize and publish this collection for free on the Internet.

The web ( has received several awards in these years (such as the 2002 Webby Award for Technical Achievement), and his blog also allows us learn more about the history of some of the small jewels in the collection, in 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:

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Moon Viewer


Luna Viewer is the default viewer for the collection, based on thumbnails, which allows browsing all the digitized contents of the same using categories (based on time, author, area of ​​the world represented 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.

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Georeferencer v4

Georeferencer v4 is a recent addition to the collection website. And one of its great attractions: allows you to view historical maps superimposed on modern maps (or other historical maps) with a high level of precision.

Not all maps are georeferenced, but the tool it also allows us to help to that task, indicating the points on an old map that correspond to your current location.


This application allows you to give a hand when it comes to indicating how a historical map fits into a Google Maps.

History and geography experts and buffs can turn to Georeferencer for detect all kinds of changes in a region over time.


MapRank is another extremely useful map search tool, which allows us to find the closest digitized historical maps to a certain point of a current map (and at a similar scale to it).

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 of ​​the one it covers will be displayed. The tool also allows us to delimit the historical period.

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Other tools

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.