About the Russian Military Topographic Map Collection

The IU collection of these (mostly) former Soviet Red Army topographic maps came to us from the duplicate map room of the Library of Congress Map Collection.  These captured maps have a great story to tell, that can be traced by the many library stamps they bear. The collection ranges from around 1880-1945 and ranges from Scandinavia to Iran, with most holdings in Eastern Europe and Western Russia.

The US Army translated a guide to the symbols used on these maps. This guide can be viewed in the HathiTrust.

Access the Maps

Russian Military Topographic maps have been digitized can be viewed in IU's Digital Collections

All maps are available for download in IU Datacore

Use the interactive index map to find which sheet number you need. The index map links to Datacore for download.

More Information

Before our interactive map was finished, we made do by adapting paper indexes for the web. The original index maps were scanned copies of copies, and were extremely difficult to use (see example below).

Sample of an index map demonstrating the condition the maps were received in. It's hard to tell what all these lines, triangles, numbers, blotches, and squiggles are trying to say.

 

The small rectangles reading left to right numbered 1 through 12, 13 through 24, etc., (this pattern continues down--which is shown on the example below--until the number 144) represent one map at the scale of 1:100,000. For example, a map with the number O-37-1 is the first map in this area, O-37-2 is the second, and so on down to O-37-144.

Example of the pattern used to number maps at 1:100,000 scale.
 

Each 1:100,000 scale map can be further subdivided into 4 maps at 1:50,000 scale:

Image shows how individual maps in the above example are broken down further into 1:50,000 scale.
 
 
How the Cyrillic characters on the four maps in the above example transliterate into the Latin alphabet.

 

Their numbering scheme is just a continuation of the 1:100,000 parent map sheet. For example, O-37-132-A is the 1:50,000 scale northwest quadrant of the O-37-132 1:100,000 map.

Each 1:50,000 scale map can be further subdivided into four 1:25,000 scale maps. With the exception of just a few of this scale, all are in the N-34 area.

Example showing how the 1:25,000 scale maps are broken out of the 1:50,000 scale maps which have been broken out of the 1:100,000 scale maps.

Their numbering scheme is also a continuation of the 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 parent map sheets. For example, N-34-132-A-a is the 1:25,000 scale northwest quadrant of the N-34-132-A 1:50,000 scale map.

 

The digitization, georeferencing, and cataloging of the Russian Military Topographic Map Collection was supported by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  

The project team included:

Michelle Dalmau (PI), Head of Digital Collections Services

Theresa Quill (PI), Map and Spatial Data Librarian

 

Brianna Best, Image and Metadata Quality Control Specialist

Jordan Blekking, Image and Metadata Quality Control Specialist

Conner Capik, GIS and Digitization Specialist

Alexis Fain, Image and Metadata Quality Control Specialist

Kathrine Hastings, Image and Metadata Quality Control Specialist

Ardasher Khashimov, Cataloging & Digitization Specialist

Matthew Leetz, GIS and Digitization Specialist

Sam Szewczyk,  Image and Metadata Quality Control Specialist

Veronika Trotter, Cataloging & Digitization Specialist

Sarah Ward, Image and Metadata Quality Control Specialist

 

With special help from:

Kara Alexander, Digital Media Specialist

Caitlyn Smallwood Hastings, Digital Imaging Specialist

Jennifer Liss, Head of Monographic Image Cataloging

Media - Russian maps in the news

Quill, T., & Dalmau , M. . (2019). Capture and Release: The Story of the Russian Military Topographic Map Collection. Cartographic Perspectives, (93), 65–67. https://doi.org/10.14714/CP93.1567

National Geographic (free login required)

Conference Presentation at the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) annual meeting in 2018. View on YouTube