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This guide provides print, online, and local resources for historical research.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the differences between websites and library databases?

1.  Generally, websites and library databases both can contain:

  • scholarly information (such as facts, scholarly essays, research results, and research reports), and
  • non-scholarly information (such as popular opinion and guesswork).

NOTE: Researchers should take the time to verify research results by checking several other reliable sources before using it or acting on it. (See more about how to determine what types of sources are credible at PPLD's LibGuide on Finding Good Information here.)

2.  Library databases do not generally use natural language to search, but use specialized wording and symbols. One of the benefits of using library databases is that they give more precise results than websites or web searches, which may include duplicate or irrelevant results.

3.  In addition, library databases contain content that is sometimes only available by paying for it. The library pays for access to that information on behalf of the community it serves.

4.  Online web searches often do use natural language, but the results may not be exactly what a researcher is looking for.

5.  The order of an online result list is also often based on the priorities of the companies who offer the search (usually at no out-of-pocket cost), rather than the priorities of the researcher.  

For a more detailed discussion of researching best practices, see PPLD's LibGuide on Information and Media Literacy here.

Historical Atlases & Maps Featured in PPLD's Collection

The Historical Atlas of the British Isles

Available as an eBook for checkout through Libby/OverDrive

A visual history of the many peoples who've inhabited and shaped Britain, from hunter-gatherers to Celts, Vikings, Normans, and modern immigrants. This atlas covers the history of the British Isles from earliest times to the present day.

Overland with Kit Carson

Available as a print book for checkout or for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

Gold had just been discovered in California at the close of the Mexican War when Kit Carson started east from Los Angeles with Dispatches. Going with him was Lieutenant George Douglas Brewerton, who describes their journey over the Old Spanish Trail. It was a torturous route across deserts and mountains requiring the kind of expert survival skills that made Kit Carson famous. The scout, who was carrying the news that would begin the rush for gold, went as far as Taos, where he was reunited with his wife. From there Brewerton joined a wagon train that labored over the Santa Fe Trail to Independence, Missouri. Overland with Kit Carson is a colorful and authentic account of encounters with Indians and white adventurers and of the hazards and hardships that accompanied anyone who undertook such a long journey in a sparsely populated country.

The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps

Available as a print book for checkout, as an eBook for checkout through Libby/OverDrive, and (as featured here) an eBook for checkout through Hoopla

Discover the mysteries within ancient maps! This richly illustrated book collects and explores the colorful histories behind a striking range of real antique maps that are all in some way a little too good to be true. The Phantom Atlas is a guide to the world not as it is, but as it was imagined to be. It's a world of ghost islands, invisible mountain ranges, mythical civilizations, ship-wrecking beasts, and other fictitious features introduced on maps and atlases through mistakes, misunderstanding, fantasies, and outright lies. Author Edward Brooke-Hitching is a map collector, author, writer for the popular BBC Television program QI, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


Available as an eBook for checkout through Freading

Over the past four decades, the volumes published in the landmark History of Cartography series have both chronicled and encouraged scholarship about maps and mapping practices across time and space. As the current director of the project that has produced these volumes, Matthew H. Edney has a unique vantage point for understanding what “cartography” has come to mean and include.

In this book Edney disavows the term cartography, rejecting the notion that maps represent an undifferentiated category of objects for study. Rather than treating maps as a single, unified group, he argues, scholars need to take a processual approach that examines specific types of maps—sea charts versus thematic maps, for example—in the context of the unique circumstances of their production, circulation, and consumption. To illuminate this bold argument, Edney chronicles precisely how the ideal of cartography that has developed in the West since 1800 has gone astray. By exposing the flaws in this ideal, his book challenges everyone who studies maps and mapping practices to reexamine their approach to the topic. The study of cartography will never be the same.

School District Map, El Paso County, Colorado

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

Indicates schools by range, township and section.
Shows numbered school district limits, locations and names of schools, ranges and townships, numbered sections, towns, named bordering counties, and a military reservation.

The Routledge Atlas of Russian History

Available as an eBook for checkout through Libby/OverDrive

The complex and often turbulent history of Russia over the course of 2,000 years is brought to life in a series of 176 maps by one of the most prolific and successful historian authors today.

This fourth edition of The Routledge Atlas of Russian History covers not only the wars and expansion of Russia but also a wealth of less conspicuous details of its history, from famine and anarchism to the growth of naval strength and the strengths of the river systems.

Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey

Available as an eBook for checkout through Freading

Map of a Nation tells the story of the creation of the Ordnance Survey map, the first complete, accurate, affordable map of the British Isles. The Ordnance Survey is a much beloved British institution, and this is—amazingly—the first popular history to tell the story of the map and the men who dreamt and delivered it.

The Ordnance Survey's history is one of political revolutions, rebellions and regional unions that altered the shape and identity of the United Kingdom over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It's also a deliciously readable account of one of the great untold British adventure stories, featuring intrepid individuals lugging brass theodolites up mountains to make the country visible to itself for the first time.

Theater of the World: The Maps that Made History

Available as a print book for checkout and as (as featured here) an eBook for checkout through Libby/OverDrive

A beautifully illustrated full-color history of mapmaking across centuries — a must-read for history buffs and armchair travelers. Theater of the World offers a fascinating history of mapmaking, using the visual representation of the world through time to tell a new story about world history and the men who made it. Thomas Reinertsen Berg takes us all the way from the mysterious symbols of the Stone Age to Google Earth, exploring how the ability to envision what the world looked like developed hand in hand with worldwide exploration. Along the way, we meet visionary geographers and heroic explorers along with other unknown heroes of the map-making world, both ancient and modern. And the stunning visual material allows us to witness the extraordinary breadth of this history with our own eyes.

Map of Cripple Creek, Teller County, Colorado

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

Showing house numbers, water mains, sewers, sewer system, fire hydrants, all buildings erected to August 1st, 1901, and mining claims. Compiled from official records.

The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found

Available as an eBook for checkout through Libby/OverDrive and (as featured here) as a print book for checkout

The Map of Knowledge follows three key texts--Euclid's Elements, Ptolemy's The Almagest, and Galen's writings on medicine--on a perilous journey driven by insatiable curiosity about the world.

Highway Map and Guide of Colorado

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

Relief shown by hachures and spot heights. Shows highways and roads with surfaces indicated, towns and natural features, bodies of water (creeks, rivers, lakes, reservoirs), tunnels, national parks and monuments, Indian camps, mountains and mountain passes, and points of interest. Includes illustrations showing U.S. and state highway markers, and text "How to follow this guide." On verso: Authorized guide and map stations of Colorado.

Colorado: A Historical Atlas

Available (as featured here) as a print book for checkout and for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

This thoroughly revised edition of the Historical Atlas of Colorado, coauthored by Tom Noel and published in 1994, is chock-full of the best and latest information on Colorado, with new topics, updated text, more than 100 color maps and 100 color photos, and a bibliography of best books on Colorado, as well as useful lists of relevant tourist attractions.

The Maps of Chickamauga: An Atlas of the Chickamauga Campaign, Including the Tullahoma Operations, June 22 - September 23, 18

Available as an eBook for checkout through Freading

Third in a new series of campaign studies that take a different approach toward military history, The Maps of Chickamauga explores this largely misunderstood battle through the use of 120 full-color maps, graphically illustrating the complex tangle of combat's ebb and flow that makes the titanic bloodshed of Chickamauga one of the most confusing actions of the American Civil War. Track individual regiments through their engagements at fifteen to twenty-minute intervals or explore each army in motion as brigades and divisions maneuver and deploy to face the enemy. The Maps of Chickamauga is an ideal companion for battlefield bushwhacking or simply armchair touring. Full color brings the movements to life, allowing readers to grasp the surging give and take of regimental combat in the woods and fields of North Georgia.

The Longest Line on the Map

Available (as featured here) as a print book for checkout and as an eAudiobook for checkout through Hoopla

From the award-winning author of American Canopy, a dazzling account of the world's longest road, the Pan-American Highway, and the epic quest to link North and South America, a dramatic story of commerce, technology, politics, and the divergent fates of the Americas in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Pan-American Highway, monument to a century's worth of diplomacy and investment, education and engineering, scandal and sweat, is the longest road in the world, passable everywhere save the mythic Darien Gap that straddles Panama and Colombia. The highway's history, however, has long remained a mystery, a story scattered among government archives, private papers, and fading memories. In contrast to the Panama Canal and its vast literature, the Pan-American Highway--the United States' other great twentieth-century hemispheric infrastructure project--has become an orphan of the past, effectively erased from the story of the "American Century."

Historical Atlas & Map Databases & Recommended Websites

PPLD Resource Guide

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