Sunday, August 22, 2010

Online New England Maps from the Boston Public Library

Maps are a great tool for house researchers, especially when dealing with missing records or those that are hard to find.  Maps can show old, out of use historical names for local places, changing borders, or land owners from past centuries.  They can be just the thing you need to get your research back on track when you’ve hit a stumbling block.
 A great collection of maps with a New England focus is available online from the Boston Public Library.  The maps in the physical collection are a combination of the Norman B. Leventhal collection and the Boston Public Library’s collection.  The library has a collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases dating as far back as the 15th century.   There are many maps online showing Boston, Massachusetts and New England.
From the main page select the View Collection link at the top.  You can explore the collection by location, subject, publisher, date or projection.   There are also some highlights to get you started in case your can’t decide.  Try out the link for maps and charts of Colonial New England and Colonial Boston to give you a flavor of the collection.
With a quick search I discovered the online collection has 255 maps of Massachusetts, 30 of New Hampshire, 45 of Rhode Island, 35 of Connecticut, 21 of Vermont and 59 of Maine. 
Try searching for the name of your town.  I found two bird’s eye view maps of Medway, Massachusetts dating to 1887.  The Medway Historical Society sells large reproduction copies of these.  There were 8 maps of Bristol County, Massachusetts starting with 1852 and ending with 1884.  There are also nice bird’s eye view maps from 1881 of Guilford, Wallingford and Chester, Connecticut.
You can zoom in to get details view of the maps or you can download them for non-commercial use.
Try it out and you just may find a view of your house from the 19th century.
The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library can be found online at


  1. nice story....that is a great library..
    I maintain a web site of old maps for sale, but I also have loads of free content, including the recently published collection of old Vermont State maps.

    You can view and download free copies of almost 100 old state maps here


  2. Dave,

    I love your site too. I'll have to do a blog post about you one of these days :)


  3. Thanks for sharing this information Marian. I'm going to go check it out.