Historical

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection – Undoubtedly the finest collection of historical maps available on the web

The Mapmaker of Mount Vernon – Before he was the commander of the Continental Army and first President of the United States, George Washington was a successful surveyor and topographer. Many of his hand drawn maps survive and reside in the Map Collection of the Library of Congress. This interesting short article by Edward J. Redmond of the Library of Congress highlights Washington’s activities as mapmaker, surveyor, explorer and, yes, land speculator

US Army Map Service History – Sadly the US Army Corps of Engineers seems to want to forget its topographic history. This private site provides one of the best narratives of the history of the Army Map Service

The Army Map Service map collection at the University of Texas – The best on-line collection of Army Map Service products, most dating from the WWII era

McMaster University (Ontario) WWII Topographic Map Collection – An outstanding collection of British GSGS (Geographical Section, General Staff) and Army Map Service map and supporting products from WWII

USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer – A joint venture between the US Geological Survey and ESRI, this is a wonderful tool to help visualize change via georeferenced historical topographic maps. This is very well done – well implemented with a great interface.  Map geeks will find themselves spending hours exploring the history of the obscure corners of the United States.

The US Army Mapping Mission to Ethiopia – Throughout the late 1960’s the Army Map Service and Army field topographic units conducted extensive mapping missions throughout northern Africa and into Iran.  Here’s a great site that records much of that history

U.S. Corps of Topographical Engineers – A living history group dedicated to preserving the history of the pioneering Army Topographical Engineers

USAF Aerial Survey & Photomapping Historical Site – We may have made the maps, but the Air Force provided most of the aerial photography!

Defense Mapping School Alumni Site – For decades all Army topographers were trained at the Defense Mapping School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  Sadly the school is no more, but there is a very active alumni association centered around this website

The British Military Survey Association – US Army topographic units have a long history of collaboration with elements of the British Military Survey division of the Royal Engineers. This includes joint service during conflicts in Kuwait, Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Perhaps the longest collaboration was between Army topographic units and British topographic squadrons stationed in Germany during the Cold War period from the late 1940’s to the 1990’s

Notable Topographic Engineers – A page from the US Army Geospatial Center (successor to the Army Topographic Engineering Center and before that the venerable Engineer Topographic Laboratories) listing out some less well known but still very important topographic engineers. Most of these individuals made contributions to military topographic engineering, particularly post-WWII which was the ‘golden era’ of topographic research and development. I have been honored to meet and study under several of the individuals on this list, in particular Dr. Robert Frost, Dr. Jack Rinker and Brigadier General Gilbert Kirby

 

Virtual Archive of Wild-Heerbrugg – In the latter half of the 20th Century Wild- Heerbrugg of Switzerland was THE premiere optical survey instrument manufacturer. Thousands of their instruments are still in use around the world because they provide better results in certain surveying situations than many newer digital systems

Museum of Hewlett-Packard Calculators – HP calculators and topography go together like peas and carrots.  HP calculator products were eagerly adopted by surveyors and topographers and valued for their precision, reliability and rugged construction. Plus there’s that funny ‘reverse polish notation’ thing

 

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