Maps for Our Maps: Improving Access to Historic Maps with Interactive Indexes

September 16th 2015 @ 12:00pm
Hazelbaker Hall (Wells Library E159)

Theresa Quill, Social Sciences Data & GIS Librarian


The Herman B Wells Library at Indiana University has been digitizing its collection of Soviet Military Topographic maps from 1880 to the 1940s. These maps were created by the Soviet Military for internal intelligence purposes and classified as top secret. During World War II, some sheets were captured by German forces and were later captured by the U.S. Military. These maps bear stamps from Nazi Germany and are marked “captured map.” After the fall of the Soviet Union, many more maps made their way to libraries across the United States, including the library at Indiana University.


Previously, in order for a user to find these topographic maps, he or she must be able to read an old and unclear index map to determine the appropriate sheet. This is especially vexing in the case of Eastern Europe, where borders and place names changed frequently in the early 20th Century. Based on a framework created by Christopher Thiry at the Colorado School of Mines, I used GIS to create an online, interactive index for this map set. The index allows for searching, panning, and zooming in a familiar online map environment. Eventually, all of the digitized maps will be linked to the interactive index and included in a collaborative index project hosted on ArcGIS Online with the goal of facilitating user interaction and of preserving the maps in this digitized environment. 

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Contact Info

Wells Library W501
1320 East Tenth Street
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405
Michelle Dalmau
Michelle Dalmau - Head, Digital Collections Services, Associate Librarian
(812) 855-1261