NOAA considers a historical map or chart any map or chart that is not used today because it is out of date

Civil War map

This map was created in 1863 in support of the siege at Vicksburg, Mississippi, during the Civil War.

The Office of Coast Survey maintains a historical map and chart collection of over 35,000 scanned, high-resolution images. The collection includes some of the nation’s earliest nautical charts, bathymetric maps, city plans, and Civil War battlefield maps.

Nautical charts are one of the most fundamental tools available to mariners, depicting the nature and form of the coast, the general configuration of the sea bottom, water depths, locations of dangers to navigation, locations and characteristics of human-made aids to navigation, and other features useful to the mariner.

While the historical map and chart collection dates back to the 1700s, the Office of Coast Survey, which formed in 1807 as the first federal scientific agency, produced its first nautical charts in the mid-1830s.

Additionally, many of the historical maps in the collection depict events reflecting the geographic landscape at that time. One example is a Chattanooga battlefield map from 1863, which is considered one of the best Civil War maps at that time.

Digital copies of images within the collection are available for free download.

For more information:

Historical Map and Chart Collection, Office of Coast Survey

Charting a More Perfect Union: Special Collection of Civil War Charts

Podcast: Historical Charts and Maps (Diving Deeper)

New Online, a NOAA Civil War Collection