Inventory of Historic Maps of Mississippi
by Paul Davis

Using the Database:

Many search options are available using one or more of the fields in a map record. For instance, you may wish to locate and view maps that show certain cultural features such as early settlements and the names of property owners in Adams County in 1862. Or perhaps you wish to know where Indian settlements or old forts were located in the Gulf Coast area or Lee County. Once your query is met, a listing of map titles (records) will be presented. Selecting a title will provide a systematic presentation of up to fifteen data categories for that map. A link to a high-resolution image of the map may also be included should it be available on the Web. This should greatly enhance your decision concerning a map's utility.

Additionally, the continually growing community of those pursuing genealogy, state or local history or even legal documentation can query for maps by specific county that may contain names of local residents, towns, settlements or other useful natural and cultural features.

For assistance in better locating your special map, see Search Hints below.


Title: In most cases a map's title is given in full. However, some early titles were endless. These are usually truncated towards the end of a title with an ellipsis (...). A title beginning and ending in box brackets ([ ]) was generally assigned by a repository to represent the map's purpose and geographic area. With few exceptions the assignment of "(sic)" is not used in this inventory to correct early language and spelling. Most titles reflect the actual spelling and idioms used when the maps were produced.

Author: Authors are often depicted in the title. When not specified on the map, an author was usually assigned by various map historians, archivists or cartographers. A map's author may have been the cartographer who researched and drew the map. Often it was a surveyor or chief engineer who was tasked with producing the map. Where possible, the birth and death dates of an author are provided. At times, authorship is indicated as the organization or government agency responsible for the map's production.

Scale: Scale is indicated by the number of miles or feet for one inch on the map observed in the repository where it was found or as noted by the holding repository, e.g. one inch to 12 miles or one inch to 200 feet. Kilometers can be determined by multiplying the number of miles by 1.61. The number of feet multiplied by 0.3 will provide meters.

Many maps contain a bar scale. These were used to compute a scale if not already assigned by the repository. In some cases a verbal scale was printed on the map, e.g. "one inch is equal to 35 miles." If a map did not contain any type of scale and the distance between two points was known, I computed a scale and indicated it as an estimate in the following manner: "ca. one inch to 35 miles." Please remember that due to size reduction, a map as depicted on the Web will not have the same scale as reported in this inventory. Hopefully, it will possess a bar scale that can be utilized directly from the Web.

Situation Date: This is usually indicated as the actual date - usually year only - that the features and other data were observed and collected as depicted on the map. The day and month are also indicated for some maps.

Publication Date: Indicates the date of first-known publication. Many maps in the inventory had multiple publication dates, often with updated features. These are discussed where applicable in the comments field.

Type: May describe the rarity of a map, how it was issued and the medium it resides on, such as paper or cloth. Since many repositories did not report what type of map they possessed, it is often not reported in this database or occasionally assumed as noted.

  • Manuscript - A one-of-a-kind map, usually an original drawing or sketch. No duplicating processes were used to produce the map.
  • Original - Generally, an original is one of a number from a first printing - often difficult to determine.
  • Printed - Editions other than the original printing - again, often difficult to determine.
  • Tracing - A partial or compete rendering of the information contained on a manuscript or original map made by hand on a transparent medium.
  • Photocopy - The process of duplicating any type of map with a camera. The finished product is usually reproduced on photographic paper in a reduced (most common), enlarged or original-sized format.
  • Photolithograph - The process of combining photography and printing to reproduce a map. Photographic images were transferred to a flat printing press medium such as stone (an early method), aluminum or zinc. The finished copy is often a reduced version of the original map.
  • Photostat - A machine process that quickly produces photocopies of a map on light-sensitive paper. The image produced is poorer than photocopies. Photostats may be negative or positive reproductions of the map.
  • Blueprint - Generally a fast, inexpensive printing process that reproduces an image with white over a blue background or blue over white.
  • Film - An image of a map on film-based media that can be positive or negative format.
  • Facsimile - An exact replica of a map. Actual facsimiles are the same size and color as the manuscript or original map being reproduced. Many so-called facsimiles may be reduced versions of the original map. Care should be exercised in determining if a particular map is actually a facsimile.

Features: The principal components of a map. Features are natural/physical and cultural entities and annotations placed on the portions of the map representing geographic locations. Examples are roads, houses, forests, names of residents, boundaries and drainage. In most cases physical features are itemized ahead of cultural features in this inventory.

Reported features were not limited to the scale or geographic area represented on the map. Small-scale maps that depict the southeast, entire United States or even North America were included in the inventory if place names, settlements or other information was included in the area of Mississippi.

An attempt has been made to keep the names of features consistent. For example, "Indian settlements" is always used in place of other possible assignments such as "Indian villages" or "Indian towns." Small, non-Indian settlements are noted as villages. "Confederate" and "Union" always define other possibilities such as Rebel or Northern.

Features can be searched by keyword alone or in conjunction with other data fields such as location. See Search Hints below.

Comments: This data field provides additional information for one or more of a map's fifteen data fields. It is a compilation of information that cannot easily be included in specific data fields. Discussions about a given data field in the Comments section are provided separately from other data field discussions. They are noted as such: "Title Note ," "Author Note ," etc.

Many of the comments relate to information noted on the map such as narratives, special annotations, markings, illustrations, tables, publishers, cartographers, surveying staff or contributing organizations and agencies. Additional comments may include various editions of the map, explanations of special features and the map's purpose. Bibliographic information may also be noted in the comments. Translations to English are usually provided. Translations obtained from Web resources are general. These are usually noted as "General Translation." Those provided by language experts at repositories are very specific and are usually noted as "Translation."

Coverage: Coverage is the specific geographic area represented on the map. I am listing as many maps that include information about Mississippi as possible. Some maps depict North America, others the United States or the southeastern U.S. Most delineate the state itself, sub-areas of the state or local areas such as counties, cities, sub-areas of cities and battlefields. The inventory also includes site-specific places. Examples are: Indian settlements, forts and details of plantations. Some maps include smaller inset maps, which often show greater detail of places on the main map.

The state's 82 counties evolved out of larger county geographic areas. Counties indicated in the Coverage field are modern units. Important: It is especially important to know that when a county is listed in the coverage field, it indicates that all or some portion of the county is featured on the map. In some cases it may only be a very small portion of a county without any features depicted. Maps that were very small scale, rough drawings or lacking in decent geographic features or landmarks may or may not list all represented counties covered in the area mapped.

Repository: Many map libraries were visited to populate the current inventory. The first were the Library of Congress's Geography and Map Division, the National Archives and Records Administration's Cartographic Architectural Records section and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Each was selected as an initial research venue because they hold the largest number of maps pertaining to Mississippi, especially manuscripts and originals. Some maps in the inventory were archived via cooperative correspondence from other public repositories and by way of online image searches.

The first repository listed for a map record usually possesses the map being described. Repositories holding similar copies of that map may also be listed. A search by repository alone will list all maps in the inventory held by that organization. Repositories known to be in possession of various editions of the map being described are often noted in the Comments section. Important: Some repositories may only retain acquired or self-scanned digital collections. If so, there will be a link to their Mississippi maps in this database. Inquire before visiting if you wish to view a hard copy of a reported map.

Language: Indicates the map's published language. The principal languages that emerged during the inventory were English, French and Spanish.

Publisher: Specific information about the publisher of a map was often ambiguous or totally lacking. When indicated on the map, the place and date of publication is noted. Occasionally, even a publisher's address is indicated. Most often, only a person's name or an authorizing agency is noted.

Size: Size is reported in inches. Size in centimeters can be obtained by multiplying the inch dimensions by 2.54. The vertical measurement of the map is usually given first. Most, but not all maps are oriented with north at the top. An example of a reported measurement for a map of Mississippi's vertical shape would be 16.5 X 13.4. When it was possible to acquire a physical measurement of a map being examined, the size indicated is to the nearest one-tenth inch between neat lines. Neat lines surround the geographic area represented on the map. Other border lines or margins may exist on the sheet containing the map. Many measurements were provided by the repositories, which may indicate border or sheet size. Inquiries with the repository are suggested if this is a matter of concern.

Link: This field indicates the Web link if a readable image of a map is available online. In some cases the URL provided might be a repository's catalog page, which will provide a link to the map image. Occasionally, two or more map image URL links may be noted in the link field. There will also be instances when the link provided is for a different but very similar edition of the map being discussed. A Links note in the Comments section will indicate specifics about any differences, especially publication date.

All links were fully functional when this inventory was published. Regrettably we cannot be responsible for dead links. Please feel free to report dead or changed links and we will endeavor to correct them as soon as possible.

Color: If listed as "Y," all or part of the map was produced in color.

Absent data fields: This indicates that no data was found or could be estimated about a particular field.

Punctuation and terms: The following are special punctuations used in the context of map discussions and their purpose:

  • Box brackets - [ ] - are used in several ways. They enclose explanatory, missing material or indicate when original text has been modified for clarity, e.g. a known author not noted on a map, "[Gray, Orlando Willis]." They may also enclose an assigned title to an untitled map,"[Horn Island in Mississippi Sound]." A bracketed ellipsis followed by text [...], is used to indicate words deleted by persons involved with archiving a map at a repository or with this project. This is the case when especially long, full titles have to be truncated.
  • Question mark - ? - usually indicates that a specific data field such as an author (National Park Service?) is thought to be the case. Almost all noted question marks were assigned by the repository that cataloged the map.
  • Ca. - Simply defined, "ca." means "approximately." It is most often assigned to provide estimates of date and map scale.

Search Hints:


  • To the extent possible common phrases and terms were standardized throughout the inventory.
  • Any word or phrase can be entered into the search box. Capitalization is not required.
  • Exact word phrases require quotation marks at the beginning and end of each phrase. Multiple phrases may be entered along with single words or numbers, for example: "French army" "Indian settlements" 1774. This will provide a list of maps illustrating both French military campaigns and Indian settlements.
  • Authors and other personal names are best located by using their last name only or last then first within quotation marks, e.g. "Ross John."
  • Small words that form part of larger words will result in the larger words appearing in search results. Example: Searching for "cultural" will list maps described by the words "cultural" and "agricultural."

Map Images:

Maps with an image link can be found using the acronym http by itself or in combination with other words or phrases. For example: http Confederate will provide a list of all maps with a high resolution scan that illustrate Civil War Confederate features.


  • A single numerical date can be entered among the words.
  • Date ranges cannot be used in the search box. If you wish to find all maps in the inventory for a given date range, e.g. 1850-1855, each year will have to be searched separately, alone or with other search criteria, for example 1850 Indians. 1851 Indians will require a separate search.


  • Personal names - The best options for finding maps that note the names of people are: "residents" or "owners."
  • Land Records and plats - All of the state's original and supplemental township land plats can be located by county and viewed by entering the following title phrase in the search box: "Public Lands Survey System Plats illustrated."
  • Cultural Features - Many options exist. Some are: cultural, population, economic, agricultural, Indian, Indian settlements, Indian nations, land owners, warrants and various human-made entities such as roads, towns, churches, or schools.
  • Populated Areas - Bounded areas and non-Indian populated places are noted as territories, colonies, states, districts, counties, cities, towns, villages, communities, blocks and lots.
  • Military - Military, Confederate, Union, camps, forts, fortifications, or batteries is best for Civil War and other military subjects.
  • Natural, physical, drainage, vegetation, relief, bluffs, physiographic, geologic, etc. will lead to maps with natural geographic features.
  • Links: Maps with an image link can be found using the acronym http by itself or in combination with other words or phrases, example: http Confederate will provide a list of all maps with a high resolution scan that illustrate Civil War Confederate features.
  • As noted, all links were fully functional when this inventory was published. Regrettably we cannot be responsible for dead links. Please feel free to report dead or changed links.