Blog topic: Maps

Hit the Road America: A Cartographic History of the American Road Trip

Hit the Road America: A Cartographic History of the American Road Trip

June 25, 2019
by Andria Olson

Dads wearing socks with sandals, singing aloud (really loud) with your favorite songs, racing to beat your older sister at collecting all the letters of the alphabet from road signs, moms taking pictures, a favorite pillow forgotten at the motel, brothers silently poking you in the backseat, or the best BLT in the world from a small town diner.

Image of railroad workers on the Tanzania Zambia railroad, circa 1971-1972

Open House on Trains and Railroads on May 10th, 2019


Friday, May 10th, marks the sesquicentennial of the Golden Spike, the ceremonial completion of the first transcontinental railroad. In honor of the occasion, curators Eitan Kensky, Kathleen Smith, and Ben Stone are organizing an Open House in Green Library from 11:00am to 3:00pm. In addition to material documenting the American transcontinental railroad and railroads in the United States, this event highlights stories of other significant trains and transportation networks around the world.

Snow plow at Cisco

Spotlight on the transcontinental railroad

The completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 marked an important milestone in the history of the United States with the joining of the populated east with the growing cities and towns of the west. Stanford University, with its connection to Leland Stanford and Timothy Hopkins, holds in its libraries an impressive array of materials related to this monumental achievement including the often overlooked contributions of the Chinese railroad workers.

National Geospatial Advisory Committee holds December 2018 meeting

December 20, 2018
by Julie Sweetkind-Singer

The National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) held their final meeting of the year on December 6, 2018 via teleconference.  The full report of the meeting is available on the NGAC website.  The NGAC is a Federal Advisory Committee that reports to the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).  Our role is to provide advice and recommendations related to the national geospatial program and the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).

Turkey in Europe

Antiquarian Maps Collection gets a new home

December 20, 2018
by Julie Sweetkind-Singer

Long before we had the David Rumsey Map Center, the Stanford Libraries held the Antiquarian Maps Collection in Special Collections.  This collection of maps dates from 1493 to 1962 and was processed over many years by Margaret Sowers.  This collection of over 5,000 maps had a finding aid in the Online Archive of California with the maps paged to the Field Room.  This all changed over the course of this fall when all of the items were transferred to the David Rumsey Map Center.  For perhaps the first time, we have carried out a complete inventory of the collection.  The map

Mission Beach Amusement Park

Sanborn fire insurance map collection online

December 4, 2018
by Julie Sweetkind-Singer

Sanborn maps are a favorite of any map librarian.  What's not to like about them?  They give us a view into the history of our country in a way that few other maps do.  They show the growth and decline of towns and cities.  They track the changing use of buildings over time.  At times they tell us who lived and worked in specific areas.  We peek into the past to understand what kept people entertained, be it an amusement park, a skating rink, a movie theater, or a bar.  The Sanborn Fire Insurance Company began producing these maps in the late 19th century for towns and cities throughout the United States in order to provide information to insurers about the composition and use of buildings to allow for the correct underwriting of policies.  The maps include: building footprints; building material shown by color, height and number of stories; uses such as dwellings, hotels, churches, and chicken coops; street widths, water pipes, hydrants, and cisterns.  This provides historians, genealogists, urban planners, and ethnologist with a wealth of information about the nation's past.  

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