Geography and Anthropology Department Collection

The Department of Geography and Anthropology Map Collection includes maps representing several subject areas.

Subject Focus

  • Historic and current Louisiana
  • Gulf South
  • Latin America
  • West Indies

Historical Map Collection

The Cartographic Information Center collection contains copies of historical maps and charts dating to the 1600s. Most of the pre-1860 map and chart images depicting Louisiana in the collection are photocopies or reduced negatives of materials in the National Archives. These materials focus on the Louisiana Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River with sporadic coverage elsewhere.
The original historical nautical charts showing the Louisiana Gulf Coast date to 1860 while the holdings of charts depicting the Mississippi River bird foot delta range from 1837 to date. 
Over the past seventy years, the Cartographic Information Center and its predecessors has amassed an excellent collection of pre-1940 U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps depicting Louisiana as well as other states. In general, the pre-1940 U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps cover the area south of the Mississippi-Louisiana border and east of a line from Baton Rouge to Lafayette to the Gulf Coast.

Other Historical Map Series in the CIC

  • The U.S. Geological Survey planimetric map series in 1:31,680-scale compiled from aerial photographs in the 1930s depicts the Louisiana Gulf Coast from Sabine Pass to Bayou Blanc.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers topographic maps from the 1930s depicting the Mississippi River. These maps show areas of historic meanders, cut-offs, and crevasses.
  • The Mississippi River Commission surveys from the late 1880s. These large scale surveys provide depth soundings and topographical information for area near the river. Details include location of plantation homes and outbuildings, cultivated fields, and landowners' names. Online images of these surveys are available at the NOAA web site.

A reference source for descriptions and locations of maps depicting Louisiana prior to 1900 is the book: Historical Maps of Louisiana: An Annotated Bibliography.

Online sources for images of historical maps and charts are listed on our Online Maps Digital Resource

Please note: The public is welcome to view historical maps and charts in the Reading Room. However, historical maps and charts do not circulate.

West Indies Collection

The West Indies Collection, as defined by the Cartographic Information Center, consists of the Greater and Lesser Antilles. Physical characteristics and land use information is available from topographic series maps of: Haiti 1:25,000; Jamaica 1:10,000 and 1:50,000; and the Cayman Islands 1:25,000. The collection also contains topographic maps of Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados, and islands grouped under the collective titles Leeward Islands, Windward Islands, and the French West Indies. Cultural and travel information is provided on Cuba, Dominican Republic, and the Virgin Islands. Geologic information is represented for the Caribbean region, Cuba, and the French West Indies. Political boundaries are illustrated for various individual islands as well as the West Indies and Caribbean region.