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Guide to Historical Maps in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

A guide to the types and uses of historical maps in SCARC's collections

Statement on Anti-racist Description


We acknowledge that harmful language and imagery impacts those accessing our collections and has the potential to perpetuate systemic discrimination and cultural bias. Certain collection materials held by the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC), and the language used to describe them, may include harmful language and overt expressions of bigotry or bias, as well as outdated cultural or geographical references and stereotypes. Providing access to these historical materials does not endorse any attitudes, prejudices, or behaviors depicted therein.

Archivists are not, and cannot, be neutral, and we openly and vehemently reject the biased views represented by harmful language and attitudes in our collections. We recognize, however, these viewpoints illustrate social mindsets and perspectives of their time, and that such stories cannot be erased when providing a truthful history of who we are. We do not intend to hide any aspects of our collections, and believe in the importance of fostering access to our resources in a responsible and transparent way.

We commit to embedding these practices across every facet of our work on a continual basis.

How to Use this Guide

Collections listed in this guide are identified by title, and are described in a brief statement outlining the contents of the collection. Relevant subjects, topics, and/or keywords have been bolded, and box and folder information have been included as necessary or appropriate.

All collections listed in this guide are open for research. Please note that some of the collections selected are not yet fully processed, arranged, or described; in other words, a comprehensive description of the collection's content may not yet exist. Some of these collections are described in what SCARC refers to as a "preliminary container lists;" these lists can be found by expanding the "Other Reference Guides" section in the finding aids / collection guides for those collections (e.g. the Oregon State University Bands Motion Picture Films and Videotapes, 1968-1991).

The maps and other materials featured in this guide have been grouped on separate tabs by type (e.g. street, topographic), use (e.g. genealogy, property use or ownership), and location (e.g. state, county, city). A number of map collections will appear across all three tabs, or multiple times on the same tab. On the Maps by Type tabs, a brief historical sketch is included for map each type. The historical sketches for each map type drew from a variety of online sources; in-text hyperlinks are used in place of traditional citations to refer the reader to the original source material. Map types and uses are listed alphabetically.

Though not strictly maps, aerials are often put to many of the same uses as traditional maps, from showing the changes in land use over time or the depletion / increase of a specific natural resource (e.g. timber), to documenting urban growth and planning. For those reasons, aerials are included as a resource in this LibGuide.

The rare books featured in this guide are arranged chronologically, and represent just a small fraction of SCARC's rare book holdings. Clicking on the hyperlinked call number for a given text will open that text's library catalog page; call numbers with asterisks have copies in Special Collections and in the main stacks of the Valley Library (the latter of which may be checked out and taken home).

This guide describes physical collections located in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center. Digitized materials can be located by searching Oregon Digital, Scholar's Archive, or Media Space; where appropriate, "canned searches" and/or links to specific collection material on these sites have been provided.

An existing OSU Maps Collection Guide documents maps available in the Valley Library more generally.


The Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) maintains and makes available the University's unique collections of manuscripts, archives, photographs, and books. Subject strengths include:

We acknowledge that materials in SCARC collections and the language that describes them may be harmful. We are actively working to address our descriptive practices; for more information please see our SCARC Anti-Racist Actions Statement.

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center public service point is located in the Reading Room on the 5th Floor of the Valley Library at Oregon State University. If you plan to visit us, please check our calendar.

See our Guide to the Special Collections and Archives Research Center for more on how to visit SCARC, find our collections, and research tips.

SCARC Services

In order to provide more efficient and effective service, the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) is offering on-site access to our collections by-appointment. Advance notice of your visit and research interests allows us to better assist you in identifying materials relevant to your research, and provide more efficient service during your on-site visit. A by-appointment model also allows us to limit Reading Room disruptions, and focus on you and on your research needs.

We will continue to respond to general and reference questions remotely via our department email, There is a wealth of online content in Oregon Digital, on the SCARC website, in ScholarsArchive@OSU, in SCARC LibGuides, and on OSU MediaSpace, and public services staff are available to assist you in navigating and searching these sites. In some cases, by working closely with our archivists and librarians, and identifying a limited amount of specific materials, we may be able to support your research remotely through digitization. 

Please see our Guide to the Special Collections and Archives Research Center for more information about our by-appointment model, and other services.

Contact Us

Your archivists are here to help!

Staff of the library’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center are available for virtual reference consultations. Please email us at if you have questions or would like to set up an appointment.