Cartographic Collections

The Robinson Map Library maintains a comprehensive collection of general and political maps for all parts of the world, thematic maps, historical and special interest maps, and maps of major cities.The library also has an extensive collection of highway maps for the US and travel maps from around the world. In total, the map collection consists of about 275,000 items and is Federal Depository Library, collecting all cartographic items printed by the U.S. Federal Government.

Some of the most highly used maps in the collection are those that depict topography, soils, geology, and land use/land cover for all areas of the world.

Topographic Maps

USGS TopoView the most comprehensive resource to view and download current and historic topographic maps of the United States

The USGS Store Map Locator – has all historic as well as current editions of USGS topographic maps, including the newest ‘digital-only’ editions . Users can download a free PDF or purchase a print map directly from USGS.

Online Collection of digital historic USGS Topographic Maps
ESRI and USGS developed this useful online application


View and download historic Wisconsin Topographic Maps from the UW Digital Collections

Physical Collections in the Robinson Map Library include:

  • Topographic map series at various scales include:
  • United States at 1:24,000 (2 complete sets for Wisconsin)
  • United States (select areas) at 1:62,500
  • United States at 1:100,000
  • United States at 1:250,000
  • Africa at 1:250,000 and 1:500,000
  • Canada at 1:50,000, 1:250,000, and 1:500,000
  • Parts of Western Europe at 1:50,000
  • Parts of Central America at 1:50,000
  • Other areas at 1:500,000; 1:1,000,000; or 1:2,500,000

Soils Maps

In addition to the bound volumes of detailed Wisconsin Soil Surveys published by county, the Map Library has soil maps from around the world. These include:

  • General soil maps for United States regions (i.e. Middle states, Northeastern states, Southwestern states etc.)
  • General soil maps – Europe, Central America, South America
  • Provincial soil landscapes – Canada
  • Soil association maps by state – United States

Geologic Maps

The Map Library has an extensive collection of geologic maps that cover the world and its regions:

  • Detailed geology – Wisconsin
  • General geologic maps by state – United States
  • Canadian Geologic Survey maps – Canada
  • General geology – Africa (and more detailed coverage for select countries)
  • General geology – Antarctica<
  • General geology – Asia (and more detailed coverage for select countries)
  • General geology – Australia
  • General geology – Europe (and more detailed coverage for select countries)
  • General geology – South America (and more detailed coverage for select countries)

Land Use/Land Cover Maps

Land use/land cover maps are abundant within the collection, and include multiple copies of some of the most popular Wisconsin maps such as Robert Finley’s Map of the Original Vegetation Cover of Wisconsin.

The Robinson Map Library also holds Finley’s original hand-painted 3.5ft x 4ft map of the Original Vegetation Cover of Wisconsin that accompanied his Ph.D. thesis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1951.

The library has an extensive collection of land use maps produced by the US Forest Service, the US Geological Survey, the US Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service), and the Bureau of Land Management.

The historic aerial photography collection at the Map Library is also an excellent resource for land use/land cover analysis.

Other Thematic Maps

A thematic map shows the spatial distribution of one or more specific data themes for standard geographic areas. The map may be qualitative in nature (e.g., predominant farm types) or quantitative (e.g., percentage population change).

The maps described on this page (topographic, soils, geologic, land use/land cover) are all examples of different types of thematic maps. However, the Robinson Map Library holds many other unique thematic maps including those that show population, economic characteristics, transportation, climate, food, fuel and energy, water, elevation, cartography (map projections, etc.) and cultural history.