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Genealogists loooooooove maps

Oh yes we do.

Old maps.

New maps.

Road maps.

Tax maps.

The Legal Genealogist and every other family history researcher worth the name — we all loooooooove maps.

Which means we loooooooove David Rumsey and the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

Rumsey — his bio on the site tells us — “began building a collection of North and South American historical maps and related cartographic materials in 1980. Eventually the collection expanded to include historical maps of the entire world, from the 16th to the 21st centuries. His collection, with more than 150,000 maps, is one of the largest private map collections in the United States. In 1995, Rumsey began the task of making his collection public by building the online David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, Currently the online web site has over 89,000 high resolution images of maps and related images from his collection. The site is free to the public and is updated monthly.”1

This absolutely astounding collection of maps — free to the public — is available to us under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license: we can “copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format” and “remix, transform, and build upon the material” as long as we (1) give credit, link to the license and mention any changes we made, (2) use the items for non-commercial purposes and (3) allow anyone else to use our work based on the materials on the same terms.2


There’s so much good stuff at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection that I’m not even going to try to tell you what you might find there. Go. Go now. But make sure you have some time free in your schedule, because you’re going to be there awhile.

And this week… David Rumsey gave us some really cool new types of maps to play with.

Really cool.

Interactive globes.

David Rumsey globes

Wanna know what the mapmakers thought the world looked like in, oh, 1492? Check out this interactive globe, based on the maps of Martin Behaim.

Or what the mapmakers of the early 19th century thought the world looked like with all the new discoveries until then? Check out this interactive globe, based on the maps of Aaron Arrowsmith.

Wanna see what the ocean floor around the world looks like? Check out this interactive globe, based on the 1976 maps of the U.S. Office of Naval Research and Lamonat Doherty Geological Observatory.

You can even see what we know, here in the 21st century, about what Jupiter’s moon Io looks like. Check out this interactive globe, based on the work of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center.

There are 18 interactive globes right now that you can access, for free, online at David Rumsey’s site.

Now just how cool is this?

Happy holidays… with a little extra joy from David Rumsey.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The joy of David Rumsey,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 23 Dec 2020).


  1. About David Rumsey,” ( : accessed 23 Dec 2020).
  2. See “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0),CreativeCommons ( : accessed 23 Dec 2020).
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