James Ford Bell Library map portal

The James Ford Bell Library has a small but important collection of about 300 unbound maps. Learn more about this collection, and how to access the maps.

Access the collection

Use the online catalog to access the maps.  Select Advanced Search, and choose Catalog Only. Then, select James Ford Bell Library from the drop-down menu under Twin Cities Catalog.

To search for digitized maps in UMedia, select Browse and then in the drop down menu select Contributing Organization and then choose James Ford Bell Library.  You can then choose Historical Maps from the menu on the left.

About the collection

Maps are alluring. They draw us into worlds sometimes familiar, sometimes unknown, but always fascinating. Maps can be understood and analyzed as visual objects, as texts to be read, and as physical artifacts of a particular culture--or all of these things at once. 

The maps found within and among the pages of our books, however, total more than 22,460. We are most grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a grant funding our "Revealing Maps" project,  which enabled us to find, describe, and digitize these maps.  This page serves as a portal to this diverse cartographic collection.

Historical maps are rarely about getting from Point A to Point B.  They can detail world view, contradictory geographical perspectives, and a variety of cultural information through the combination of both text and image.  Many of our more than 20,000 maps have been digitized and are available for viewing in Bell Library's UMedia Historical Maps collection, to which maps are added throughout the year.  Funding for the digitization of most of these maps was made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of our maps also are findable through the Libraries online catalog.