Collections and Resources, Digital Library, North Carolina Collection, North Carolina History, Special Collections

500+ Years of North Carolina Maps Online

"A New Map of North Carolina" (London, 1685).

Go to North Carolina Maps

More than 3,200 historic maps of North Carolina are now available online as part of the digital North Carolina Maps project, set to be completed June 30.

Visitors to the North Carolina Maps site can see the results of a three-year collaborative project to identify and scan nearly every original map of the state published from 1584 to 1923. The collection also contains maps of every North Carolina county and maps published by the state through the year 2000.

The North Carolina Collection in the Wilson Special Collections Library collaborated to produce the new site with the North Carolina State Archives and the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo. The UNC Library and the State Archives scanned the maps, and the Library hosts and administers the site.

“We’ve heard from K-12 teachers, students, university faculty, and genealogists, all of whom are big fans of the project,” said Nick Graham, project manager and coordinator of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, based at the UNC Library. “It’s clear this is reaching a wide audience.”

Highlights on the new site include:

  • Sanborn® Fire Insurance maps from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. These full-color maps documenting 116 towns in 67 counties show streets and even individual buildings, permitting a detailed look at local history and development over time.

North Carolina Maps also contains an interactive option allowing users to lay selected historic maps over current street maps and satellite images. Another feature combines historic maps from the project with Google Earth for a “flying 3-D tour” of the state.

“The interactive maps have been a lot of fun,” said Graham. “We’ve even heard from people who have used these to find the location of their homes on 100-year-old maps.”

North Carolina Maps was underwritten by a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services – given under provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act and distributed through the State Library of North Carolina.

For information about the project, contact Graham at or (919) 962-4836.

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6 Responses to “500+ Years of North Carolina Maps Online”

  1. This is a wonderful resource. Thank you.

    I am puzzled by one thing: the database is said to cover 500+ years, but the oldest map seems to be from 1584 (=426 years old). Are there earlier items to be added?

    Posted by Robert Babcock | July 13, 2010, 8:52 am
  2. Robert:

    Your math is correct. I think the original release about the project said that it contained maps from five centuries (which is correct), and somehow that was translated into 500 years, which isn’t right. There are no earlier maps to be added at this point.


    Posted by Nick Graham | July 22, 2010, 8:48 am


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