Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Pre-Finals Diversion: Online Maps

As finals approach, it is sometimes nice to have a distraction from outlines, readings, and papers. Thankfully, the UW Libraries has resources to provide such distractions, including the Readex Serial Set Maps.

For the unfamiliar, the U.S. Serial Set contains U.S. Senate and House of Representatives reports, documents, and journals. These materials are frequently used when conducting legislative history research. Conveniently, the UW provides access to the Serial Set electronically through the Readex U.S. Congressional Serial Set. Coverage ranges from 1817 to 1980. For more recent congressional documents seethe Gallagher guide on Federal Legislative History.

But putting aside the greater utility of the Serial Set for a moment, the set also contains maps from various surveys and public works projects. You can browse the maps by state and then by county/city. I, personally, wastedtime took a break from work to browse through maps of my hometown and came across sketches of my neighborhood.

The set is also text searchable. For example a search for “University of Washington” returns a map of the area around Lake Washington.

In case the value of these maps has not resonated with you quite yet, check out the following reports about a septuagenarian who received a thirty-month sentence for cutting maps out of physical copies of the Serial Set and selling them on eBay.
For those who want explore older maps even further, checkout this collection of Early Washington Maps. The collection is a collaboration between Washington State University Libraries and the University of Washington Libraries. You can navigate the Early Washington Maps collection by running text searches or by browsing, as well.


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