Atlases, gazetteers, guidebooks and other books

Collection History

In 1997, on the death of Lawrence H. Slaughter, part of his magnificent private map collection came to NYPL from his estate, as a gift from his family. In 2001, the second half of the collection was given to the Map Division. His collection of maps focuses on the Middle Atlantic region, and formed the basis for the exhibition "In thy map securely saile."

Another private collection came to NYPL in 1990 from the John H. Levine estate, comprised of a wonderful miscellany of antique maps for places around the world, from the Holy Lands to Bermuda, providing additional specimens for this digital presentation.


Established in 1898, from map and atlas collections in the Astor and Lenox libraries, which that year joined to form The New York Public Library, the Map Division now holds some 400,000+ maps, atlases and books about cartography. Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2000-2002 enabled cataloging of the Slaughter gift and the related maps included in this presentation, some of which are described in more detail on the "American Shores: Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850" site below.

Related Resources

Campbell, Tony. “Map History / History of Cartography.” (c2004) <>

Library of Congress. “American Memory: Map Collections 1500-2004.” (2004) <>

NYPL. “American Shores: Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850.” (c2002) <>

_____ . “’In thy map securely saile’: Maps, Atlases, Charts, and Globes from the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection.” (1998) <>

Collection Data

This collection consists of thousands of bound volumes, including geographical atlases, gazetteers, guidebooks, and books on cartography and related topics. The atlases, collections of maps showing various continents, bodies of water, countries, regions, cities, and extra-terrestrial areas, which may or may not include text, date from the 17th century through the present day. They include works by notable mapmakers such as Jan Jansson (1588-1664), Joan Blaeu (1596-1673), and Thomas Jefferys (d. 1771). Gazetteers, or directories to place names and their locations, like the atlases, include those with broad, worldwide scope, and those with narrower geographical scopes. Guidebooks, or travel guides, are held as supplementary materials, due to their map illustrations and geographical descriptions of travel routes and destinations. Books on cartography include works on the art, science, and history of map making. Among them are cartobibliographies, lists of known published and unpublished maps pertaining to, for example, a particular cartographer, a depicted place, a place of publication, or a holding institution. Atlases, gazetteers, guidebooks, and books on cartography and related topics may also be found in other collections, including the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection, and The Green Book collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The volumes in the Atlases, Gazetteers, Guidebooks and Other Books collection have varying provenance. Some come from the Astor and Lenox libraries, which formed the foundation of NYPL's holdings; others were purchased by the Library or received as gifts from diverse sources over the years.
Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1600 - 1900 (Approximate)
Library locations
Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division
North America
South America
World atlases
Type of Resource
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): b28be120-c602-012f-769c-58d385a7bc34
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