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Maps, Atlases, and Gazetteers
The West Virginia and Regional History Center has a variety of maps available in an extensive collection of individual maps, Archives & Manuscripts collections, atlases, and history books.
The WVRHC’s Map Collection includes over 1300 original and facsimile maps that date from the 1600s through 2006. While focused on West Virginia, the collection also includes maps of surrounding states and regional maps. Subjects include West Virginia counties, cities, and towns; coal and coal mining operations; oil, gas, and other industries; geology; railroads; battlefields; and more. Some maps include details such as the locations of settlements, landowners, lots, churches, buildings, and highways. The Map Collection also includes select maps from Archives & Manuscripts collections.
Contact the Center for a map collection inventory.
Archives & Manuscripts Collections with Maps
Below is a select list of Archives & Manuscripts (A&M) collections containing maps which might be of interest to researchers. More complete information about these collections, as well as many other A&M collections that include maps, can be found in our searchable Guide to Archives & Manuscripts Collections. One strategy for finding substantial map collections is to search the title field for the word “map*”.
A&M 990, Hotchkiss Map Collection. This two microfilm reel collection is a copy of the Hotchkiss Map Collection housed at the Library of Congress. Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899) was a Confederate army officer, topographical and mining engineer, and historian. The collection contains over 300 maps made by Hotchkiss from 1861-1870, including battle maps, general regional maps, and maps with information on railroads, mining, and geology, mostly in Virginia and West Virginia.
A&M 1307, Sanborn Map Company. Fire Insurance Maps for West Virginia. The Sanborn Map Company created large-scale maps of more than 12,000 American cities and towns during the late 1800s and 1900s to enable fire insurance agents to assess fire insurance liability. Maps show size and construction of buildings, street names, property boundaries, building use, the locations of water mains and hydrants, and other details. Our collection contains Sanborn maps for towns and counties in West Virginia from 1884-1934, though most date from the early 1900s. An inventory is available in the WVRHC. Maps are also available on 10 microfilm reels (W 1526).
A&M 1308, T. M. Fowler’s West Virginia Maps. This collection contains over 40 maps of various cities and towns in West Virginia drawn by T.M. Fowler between 1870 and 1911. A complete inventory of towns and dates is available in the WVRHC.
A&M 1721, Topographic Maps. This collection contains over 1600 topographic maps by the U.S. Geological Survey of various cities and towns in West Virginia. Contour lines show land shapes and elevation and colors distinguish map features, such as roads, rural areas, woodlands, urban areas, landmark buildings, etc. Due to the collection's diversity in age (1891-1989), information recorded on the maps may vary. An alphabetical index is available.
A&M 2600, Jim Comstock Papers, Series 14 and 27. These series include original and facsimile maps, atlases, and books about maps. Highlights include pre- and post-Civil War maps of the West Virginia area; Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia, Illustrated: ... of Tyler and Wetzel Counties, West Virginia; maps of America before 1775; copies of [West] Virginia county maps by John Wood from 1820-1821; maps of various West Virginia cities, including, Morgantown, Moundsville, and Wheeling; and various Fry-Jefferson maps (original and copies).
Atlases like those listed below are a good place to start in the search for specific counties, towns, districts, mountains, rivers, and other geographical locations.
White's New County and District Atlas of the State of West Virginia. (Philadelphia: S. A. Mitchell, 1873.)
Sam E. Clagg and Robert L. Britton. West Virginia Atlas. (Huntington: Marshall College, 1955.)
New Descriptive Atlas of West Virginia. (Clarksburg: Clarksburg Publishing Co., 1933.)
C. J. Puetz. West Virginia County Maps. (Lyndon Station, WI: Puetz Place, 1988?)
Peter Lessing and Nora L. Simcoe. Catalog of West Virginia Maps. 2nd edition. ([Morgantown: West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey,] 1988.)
In addition to maps, useful sources listing and locating geographical features include gazetteers, place name directories, history books, and post office directories, such as the following:
West Virginia Gazetteer of Physical and Cultural Place Names. (Morgantown: West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, 1986.)
West Virginia Geographic Names. (Reston, Va.: U.S.G.S. Topographic Division, 1981.)
A Guide to Pronunciation of Place Names in West Virginia. 5th edition. (Morgantown: West Virginia University, Office of Publications, 1995.)
Henry Gannett. A Gazetteer of Virginia and West Virginia. (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1975.)
Hamill Kenny. West Virginia Place Names, Their Origin and Meaning. (Piedmont, W.Va.: The Place Name Press, 1945.)