Historical Sources

From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page is intended to discuss and review various sources of historic mapping information.

Historic Geographical Information


  • Out of date Ordnance Survey maps. Some of these are already available to trace on JOSM/Potlatch etc, however their use for detail is limited. However there does exist many smaller scale (eg 1:500) OS maps that from the 19th Century. At the moment I have not been able to completely verify copyright issues surrounding them, at least not to the extent whereby I would be comfortable using them for OSM, however it does appear they should now be out of copyright. This would make sense as there are far more recent out of copyright OS maps available. The second issue, providing the first is resolved, is getting a hold of them. They can be found on the internet in small amounts, but I would strongly suspect there would be legal issues relating to getting them from these sources.

United States of America

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



  • Brigham Young University: German Maps, "Topographic 1:25,000 scale maps of pre-WWII Germany." (in fact, the dates differ, sometimes pre-WWII, sometimes 1950s), "Copyright Status/Owner: Public Domain, Courtesy Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University"


  • Häuser-Verzeichnis der Stadt Trier (Bände 2 und 3) von Johann Peter Lay (1900). Bietet Informationen zu Häusern in Trier mit Stand 1900 hinsichtlich Adresse, Baujahr und teilweise Nutzung (Gaststätten etc.). Im Bestand der Trierer Stadtbibliothek Weberbach.

Historic Political Information

This is largely the purview of historic maps.

Historic Business Information

United States

Note that sources over 97 years old are out of copyright

Historic Battle & Campaign Information

Campaigns and their associated Battles may range over large geographic areas. There may or may not be traces on the ground.

Topographic information and vegetation at the time of the event are things that are worth mapping when accurate information is available.

United States

Historic Geographic Information

Over time, humans have dramatically shaped the surface of the earth. This is particularly true for shorelines and urban areas.

Cadastral surveys throughout history are some of the more well-known sources of historic geographic information.

DavidRumsey.com has a large collection of historical maps available for download or as a web service together with a web-enabled Georeferencer



United States

The Bureau of Land Management keeps historic maps from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Lands_Survey_System

The US Geological Survey shares historical topographic maps on the TopoView page https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/topoview/