Skip to Main Content

Find Maps & GIS: Start Here

Start your research with these recommendations from your expert librarians. 

Search for maps in OneSearch

Start with specific geographic keywords and move to more general ones, as needed. For example, start with "Boulder" then move to "Boulder County", "Front Range", "Colorado" if the previous term doesn't return enough results.
 Add the words "map" or "atlas" to your search.
Consider using a gazetteer to determine if a place you are searching for on a map has historically had a different name. 
Use an asterisk(*)to match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. For example, searching for "environment" will return results with the words "environment","environments","environmental", etc. 



Our Map Collection consists of an estimated 200,000 maps, over 3,000 atlases and geographic reference books, and more than 25,000 Colorado historical aerial photographs covering a broad range of subject areas. For assistance accessing these collections or to view these maps in print at the Earth Sciences & Map Library, please email or call 303-492-7578 to schedule an appointment.

These are websites with excellent historical map coverage recommended by the map librarians at CU Boulder. If you are interested in viewing historical maps in our print collections, please email You can also view and download historical maps of Colorado from our four digital map collections

Consider using a gazetteer

A gazetteer is a place name dictionary or index used to search the history of a place. This is particularly helpful for learning about places whose names or boundaries have changed over time or for names with variant spellings. If a place name has changed over time, you can incorporate its other names in your search. You can search OneSearch with the name of the country or region you are interested in and the word "gazetteer" or "place names." 

 Learn more about the Map Collection

Local Data:

State Data:

National and International data:

How to Cite Maps

To cite a map or aerial photograph, use the same basic style guidelines as you use to cite your books and articles (for example: MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style). However, maps/aerial photographs have some unusual elements, such as scale, that should be included.

Note: You will likely need to modify the form of these examples to conform to a particular style.

A single sheet map:

Map Author. Map title. Edition. Scale. Place of publication: Publisher, Date.


U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Madagascar. 1:3,465,000. Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1973.

A map in a book:

Map Author. Map title. Scale. Place of publication: Publisher, Date. In: Book Author. Book title. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, Date, page.


Fig. 5: Major Seaports and Transportation Axes in Southern and South Central Africa (1978). 1.6 cm. = 500 km. In: Wiese, Bernd. Seaports and Port Cities of Southern Africa. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH., 1981, p. 23.

Map in a journal article:

Map author. Map title. Scale. In: Article author. "Article title," Journal title, Volume (Date): page.


U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories. Yellowstone National Park; From Surveys Made Under the Direction of F. V. Hayden, U.S. Geologist and Other Authorities, 1871. Scale not given. In: Walsh, Jim. "Exploration and Mapping of Yellowstone National Park," Meridian, 3 (1990): 14.

Adapted from this excellent Dartmouth College Library guide on citing cartographic resources.

Ask A Map Librarian

Call (303) 492-7578


More about the Map Collection

Help with GIS

Geographic information systems (GIS) is a system for storing, analyzing and visualizing data that is geographic or locational.

Contact our Earth, Environment and Geospatial Librarian

Phil White

Email Philip.White@Colorado.EDU

Book an appointment