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USGS Map Collections Go Digital

U.S. Geological Survey scans thousands of historical maps to put them online.

The Menlo Park-based U.S. Geological Survey is bringing its topographical map collection into the year 2011 by creating digital versions of each one. 

Workers began scanning another batch of more than 200,000 maps today, some of which are almost as old as the country itself. The oldest one is from 1884, according to Greg Allord, Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of the Interior,
The endeavor is a joint effort by the Library of Congress, the U.S.G.S. National Geospatial Program and other map repositories that has been in the works since October 2009, according to nationalmap.gov.  The . will be responsible for creating the master catalog for the works that will be housed in servers all over the U.S. 

“The history documented by this collection and the analysis of distribution and spatial patterns is invaluable throughout the sciences and non-science disciplines,” Allord said, “Genealogists, historians, anthropologists, archeologists and others use this collection for research as well as for a framework on which a myriad of information can be presented in relation to the landscape.”

Each digital map will adhere to the presentation principles of traditional paper maps. But users can also turn on and off layers of data to highlight desired elements.

They will be available in pdf form for free, as well as on paper for $20 at the store in Menlo Park. You can view the collection's cumulative progress here.

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