Five centuries of North Carolina maps posted online

June 17, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- More than 3,200 historic maps of North Carolina are now available online as part of the digital North Carolina Maps project, set to be completed June 30.

Visitors to the site, www.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps/ , can see the results of a three-year collaborative project to identify and scan nearly every original map of the state published from 1584 to 1923. The collection also contains maps of every North Carolina county and maps published by the state through the year 2000.

The North Carolina Collection of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library collaborated to produce the new site with the North Carolina State Archives and the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo. The UNC Library and the State Archives scanned the maps, and the library hosts and administers the site.

“We’ve heard from K-12 teachers, students, university faculty and genealogists, all of whom are big fans of the project,” said Nick Graham, project manager and coordinator of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, based at the UNC Library. “It’s clear this is reaching a wide audience.”

Highlights on the new site include:

• A 1584 map of the Southeast from the Outer Banks History Center - the oldest in the online collection.

• Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the late 19th an early 20th centuries. These full-color maps documenting 116 towns in 67 counties show streets and even individual buildings, permitting a detailed look at local history and development over time.

• Coast and Geodetic Survey maps from the 19th and 20th centuries, showing detailed surveys of the ever-changing North Carolina coastline.

North Carolina Maps also contains an interactive option allowing users to lay selected historic maps over current street maps and satellite images. Another feature combines historic maps from the project with a Google Earth 3-D tour.

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“The interactive maps have been a lot of fun,” said Graham. “We’ve even heard from people who have used these to find the location of their homes on 100-year-old maps.”

North Carolina Maps was underwritten by a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services - given under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act and distributed through the State Library of .

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