About the Collection
The map collection at the Minnesota Historical Society consists of about 19,000 maps and nearly 2,000 volumes of atlases. The collection strongly emphasizes Minnesota Territory and the state of Minnesota, its regions, counties and cities from 1849 to the present.
The collection also includes selected maps and atlases of a wider geographic area encompassing North America, Canada, the United States, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi River Valley. Together these materials trace the process of discovery, exploration, settlement and development of the state and region as well as past and present relationships with other areas.
The Reserve Collection of rare maps, the oldest of which dates from 1581, documents the exploration of the center of the North American continent. These maps offer invaluable data on Native American settlement and the process of European movement into the area.
Fire insurance maps, with their detailed renderings showing individual structures, provide valuable information on construction and use of buildings in urban places. This collection, the most complete of its kind, covers 958 Minnesota towns and cities in 90 bound volumes and 7,000 individual maps dating from 1875 to the 1970s. Many are available for use by the public on microfilm.
Comprising the largest part of the atlas collection are the Minnesota Historical Society's 1,350 county atlases and plat books showing land ownership. Some of Minnesota's 87 counties have atlases dating to the 1860s; others are not covered until the 20th century. The collection also includes atlases and plat books for counties in the surrounding states.