The map collection at the DeGolyer consists of about 3,000 maps, dating from the 16th century through the 20th century, with most falling in the pre-1901 period.
While the map collection includes depictions of all areas of the world, the collection is especially strong in maps of North America. The American West (including Mexico) is a particular strength in view of the library’s longstanding interest in collecting Western Americana. Represented are the great European mapmakers such as Sanson, DeLisle, and Coronelli, as well as American counterparts such as Tanner, Mitchell, and Colton.
In 2003, our holdings were expanded considerably when John N. Rowe III and B.B. Barr gave the DeGolyer Library their outstanding collection of approximately 600 early maps, most of which depict Texas. Included are several manuscript maps.
Access to the collection requires patience and persistence. At present, there are over 1,500 online records for individual maps. As we continue to create new records, researchers will more readily be able to determine if we have maps bearing on their interests.
It should be kept in mind that some of the most important maps in the DeGolyer Library will be found not in the map collection but in printed volumes in the rare book collections. Here one can find significant examples of the mapmaking art, such as a Ptolemy from 1561 and the spectacular Turgot plan of Paris from 1739. Printed atlases and early American maps in books suggest the range of map materials at the DeGolyer, from the depictions of 16th-century explorers to 19th-century county atlases and mugbooks. We also hold an extensive collection of railroad timetables and guide books, many of which include maps. In the ephemera collection, we have several hundred maps issued by oil companies and state tourist agencies. The researcher is advised to consult the catalog and the reference staff; relying solely on the collection of catalogued flat maps is to miss the greater map resources in the library.