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Library of Congress Releases One-of-a-Kind Maps of Old Texas

In a new partnership, the world’s greatest research library just made available thousands of classic old maps. And many of them show our view of Texas from another time.

The Library of Congress partnered with the Digital Public Library of America to make it happen. Thanks to the joint efforts of the two organizations, any user can view these classic works of cartography. Most of the maps date from the late 1800s into early 1900s.

These pieces of history are unique in that they’re primarily “bird’s eye view” maps. That means cartographers with a knack for visual representation drew areas like Texas as they saw it. Also known as panoramic maps, they aren’t necessarily to scale but do create a sense of space.

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The Library of Congress
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The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress

Amazingly, more than half of the panoramic maps in the Library of Congress come from just five men. These men drew more than 1,700 panoramic maps in their lifetimes, which the Library of Congress dutifully collected for the display.

The artifacts are particularly cool because they show how some of the smaller towns in Texas, like Childress, once held a much more significant place in the state’s economy.

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The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress

The point of the display is to help “maximize access to our nation’s shared cultural heritage,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a release. “We will be sharing some beautiful, one-of-a-kind historic maps that I think people will really love. They are available online and I hope even more people discover them through DPLA.”

The Houston Chronicle compiled a nice list of some of the views of Texas, which you can see here. View more from the archives online at the Library of Congress site.

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Library of Congress Releases One-of-a-Kind Maps of Old Texas