The struggle for geopolitical dominance in Europe and North America through the eighteenth century created the need for new and accurate maps. This demand coincided with a flowering of the printing trades capable of producing maps, charts and battle plans with exquisite detail and beauty. The scope and breadth of the Institute’s map collection reflect the essential role of cartography during this era of war and revolution.

The map collection documents a century of nearly continuous conflict in the Western world. British, French, German and Prussian maps trace European battles of the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War, which shaped the military experiences of many British and European officers who later served in America. French and British maps of the North American theater from the time of the French and Indian War reflect the international contest for control over vast territories populated by colonists and indigenous peoples. Battle maps of the Revolutionary War depict troop movements and other logistical details outlining the course of particular military campaigns or engagements. The collection also features more general maps of North America, with period maps of each of the original thirteen states and Canada as well as individual cities including New York, Philadelphia and Charleston.

Some of the maps in the collection bear manuscript annotations, correcting or expanding upon the printed geographic information. The collection also includes several original manuscript maps.