Historical Maps

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has cataloged over 2,500 maps in its "published information" collection. They include hand-drawn sketches of towns, localities, plantations, and battlefields, as well as published maps from the sixteenth through twenty-first centuries.

MDAH staff digitized over 600 paper maps for this online exhibit. The earliest is a triptych printed by the famous Dutch cartographer Abraham Ortelius in 1588, including La Florida, drawn by Geronimo Chaves. In his book The Southeast in Early Maps, William P. Cumming called La Florida "one of the half-dozen most important mother maps of southeastern North America." Several maps in the exhibit trace the history of Mississippi from early exploration through colonial expansion, the territorial period, and statehood. Others are hand-drawn plans and plats of towns, such as P. A. Van Dorn's original plan for the city of Jackson in 1822.

Many maps can also be found in other MDAH collections, such as government records and personal papers. One such example is included in this exhibit, the colorful map of the town of Washington, Mississippi, hand drawn by B. L. C. Wailes in the town's 1838 Minute Book. Maps that other state government agencies (especially the Mississippi Department of Transportation) have scanned to document work projects and then transferred to MDAH are not included here but can be accessed with other electronic government records.