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United States Maps and Resources


The National Map: topographic mapping for the 21st century  [Final report (PDF, 38 pp.)] [ Issues and actions (PDF, 41 pp.)]
This is not a map resource, but a report on future mapping activities. “This report defines a vision for The National Map, a database of continuously maintained base geographic information for the United States and its territories that will serve as the Nation’s topographic map for the 21st century. Improvements will include greatly increased attention to keeping the information current, seamless national digital data coverage to avoid problems now caused by map boundaries, higher resolution and positional accuracy to better support user requirements, thorough data integration to improve the internal consistency of the data, and dramatically increased reliance on partnerships and commercially available data.” (Final report, Executive summary, p. 1)

Ask USGS. USGS Maps, Online Edition
“Discover a small sample of the millions of maps produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in its mission to map the Nation and survey its resources. This booklet gives a brief overview of the types of maps sold and distributed by the USGS through its Earth Science Information Centers (ESIC) and also available from business partners located in most States. The USGS provides a wide variety of maps, from topographic maps showing the geographic relief and thematic maps displaying the geology and water resources of the United States, to special studies of the moon and planets.”

Color Landform Atlas of the United States
For all 50 states, access Shaded relief maps, County maps, Black and white maps, PostScript maps, Satellite images, and an 1895 map.

Geographic Names Information System
The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, contains information about physical and cultural geographic features in the United States and associated areas, both current and historical (not including roads and highways). The database holds the Federally recognized name of each feature and defines the location of the feature by state, county, USGS topographic map, and geographic coordinates.

Geography Program
Geography is central to the work of the Census Bureau, providing the framework for survey design, sample selection, data collection, tabulation, and dissemination.  Geography provides meaning and context to statistical data.

Landforms of the conterminous United States: a digital shaded-relief portrayal: visualizing the landscape(USGS) Pamphlet
When the necessary information is available in digital format a computer can represent landforms as they actually are. “This map is the largest single-sheet graphic of relief forms of the United States since the classic hand-drawn oblique map of the same area by Raisz (1939) … The new map clearly shows the regional terrain textures on which physiographic divisions of the United States were largely based on Fenneman and Johnson, 1946.” (from section ‘The new digital shaded-relief map’).”

National Geographic MapMaker Interactive
View and customize maps. Explore and discover information about countries and territories around the world. Select layers to create a map specific to your need. Customize the colors and add text, photos, and videos. 

A Tapestry of Time and Terrain: The Union of Two Maps - Geology and Topography (USGS)
This new map weaves together, in vivid colors and shadings, the topographical and geological components of the lower 48 states, as well as the geologic age of those components. It outlines the geologic story of continental collision and break-up, mountain-building, river erosion and deposition, glaciation, volcanism and other events and processes that have shaped the region over the last 2.6 billion years. Includes descriptions of geologic times and selected features (e.g., the Llano Uplift in Central Texas and the Llano Estacado in the Texas Panhandle). Also available in paper. Ask the Government Documents Librarian for assistance.

Formerly Microsoft TerraServer “[t]he TerraServer-USA web site is one of the world’s largest online databases, providing free public access to a vast data store of maps and aerial photographs of the United States. TerraServer is designed to work with commonly available computer systems and web browsers over slow speed communications links.” TerraServer-USA contains digitized topographical maps of the United States provided by the US Geological Survey. The USGS digitized topographical maps cover 100% of the conterminous United States and Hawaii. Images can be downloaded. 

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Service
“This site provides data and analysis on land use, soil erosion and soil quality, water quality, wetlands, and other issues regarding the conservation and use of natural resources.” Click on “Maps, Facts, & Figures” Find maps covering such topics as Agricultural productivity, Cropland, Soils, Urbanization, Water supply, Wetlands, and Wildlife habitat.

USGS National Mapping Information
Query form for the United States and its territories retrieves detailed information (if any) about a specific place or point of interest (even libraries and parks) in the U.S. Includes: Elevation, Population, Description, History Notes, Variant Names, and USGS 7.5’ Map Names. Includes links to Census Bureau’s Tiger Mapping Service.

USGS Store
Replaces “Map Finder.” Start by “entering” the USGS Store. This site is helpful if you already know the name of the quadrangle or the USGS product number. If you don’t know the map name, use the “GNIS” search option, which links to the National Mapping Information “Query Form for the United States and Its Territories” to get the quadrangle map name. Entries for each map include a thumbnail image (in .jpeg, if available); coordinates; and dates of version, survey, revisions, and printing. County names are not included. You can order copies of maps online from this site.

United States
A collection of United States maps, from the Perry-CastaƱeda Library Map Collection, The University of Texas at Austin. Includes “U.S. Historical City Maps.”

United States Digital Map Library (USGenWeb Archives)
“The United States Digital Map Library is a USGenWeb Archives project, developed in April of 1999 under the coordination of Fred Smoot.” The site is hosted by RootsWeb. The collection includes U.S. maps, state and county maps, and Indian land cessions.

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Revised: May 2019, Kimberly Wirth, Coordinator of Information Literacy/Research Librarian
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