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How do I find maps?

Resources for using maps in research

Finding maps @ UChicago

Search for maps in the library catalog:

Advanced Search Gif

  • Use the advanced search
  • Choose map as the format even if you are looking for digital maps
  • Always add a place name to your search: state, country, region, etc. 

Finding Scanned Maps @ UChicago

There are several ways to find scanned maps at UChicago:

Browse, save, and share the Library's scanned maps

LUNA is an image platform that lets you for browse all the scanned maps in the Map Collection at one time. Use LUNA to:

Browse the Library's scanned maps with spatial data from other institutions

Browse maps from the Oriental Institute

The Oriental Institute has many scanned maps available to view and download.

Helpful maps terms for searching


These types of maps are common in the UChicago collection, and using these as keywords may help narrow search results:

  • ‚ÄčPolitical: shows government administrative boundaries such as countries, states, and counties

  • Ethnographic: thematic maps that show spatial distribution of human diversity and culture

  • Geologic: shows rock units, strata, and other structural features studied in geology

  • Topographic: visualizes landforms, terrain, and other ground features of an area using contours and relief, usually comes in series

  • Aerial photography: photographs taken from an elevated place such as a plane, drone, or satellite


A map's scale is used to depict the relationship between the map and the real world.

If a map scale is 1:10,000, then one inch on the map may represent one mile on the ground. Scales for urban maps range from 1:1,000 to 1:50,000. Scales for regional maps range between 1:50,000 and 1:1,000,000.


A map's projection is the 2D representation of the 3D globe.

Many types of projections exist, and a cartographer chooses one depending on what it is important to preserve in a map such as distance, area, shape, direction, or scale. 


Map sets or series refer to a group of maps that depict small parts of a region, but when these maps are laid together the sheets can be used to show an entire region.

To find out what is available in a set, you must consult an index map. Topographic, aerial, and geologic map sets are most common.


An atlas is a bound collection of maps. Atlases may also contain statistics related to the region it depicts.


A gazetteer is like a dictionary for maps and geographic areas. Consult a gazetteer when searching for maps to find precise names for places, geographical features, historic places, or regional statistics.


Sam Brown
Map Assistant
JRL 370
(773) 834-3347

Interim Maps Librarian

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Greg Fleming
He, his
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637