The gist: I have been doing some historical map research for a recent project, which led me to discover a very cool folio of high-quality surveyor maps of the Mississippi River from the 1880s. Research and conversations with a couple map librarians at New York Public Library and LSU about the maps, leads to conclude that a WMS/Open Data compliant, georeferenced dataset has not yet been created for this extensive folio of archival cartographic work.

Core question For the project, I have successfully georeferenced a couple of the map-images. I think it would be awesome to georeference the full-set, however this is far outside the scope of my project. There are over 160 images to digitize & georeference, and I was wondering if anyone can think of any good non-profit, academic or grant funding for creating GIS open data layers?

  • What does this have to do with OpenStreetMap? To my knowledge they don't provide historical maps like this (although it would be cool if they did).
    – csk
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 21:54
  • what does georeferencing the full-set require? why is that outside your scope? you need to digitize the images...scan them?
    – albert
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 0:58
  • I tagged 'openstreetmap' because I had to tag something to post, couldn't find a better tag, and this project could result in an open data layer for GIS
    – jkray
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 3:29

1 Answer 1


Check out Old Maps Online: https://www.oldmapsonline.org/. They have an interactive map of the world, which you can use to locate georeferenced historic maps.

They have many more old maps that are waiting to be georeferenced. Anyone can volunteer to help georeference them.

An organization can bulk-upload un-geoereferenced maps to their collection.

Once a map is uploaded and georeferenced, anyone can view it for free without needing to register. The privacy policy is here.

If you went this route, the maps could (eventually) be georeferenced by volunteers, so you would only need funding to pay for the time you spend digitizing and uploading them. I'm not sure how long it would take if you left it to happen organically, but it might be pretty easy to recruit some student volunteers, eg from local universities.

Another source of information that you might not have thought of, would be the Upper and Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committees (UMRCC and LMRCC, respectively). Historical maps are a bit outside their core objectives (see below), but they might know about some funding opportunities.

Promote preservation & wise utilization of natural & recreational resources of the Upper Mississippi River. Formulate policies, plans, & programs for carrying on cooperative surveys and studies. Provide recommendations to governing State bodies in support of the objectives of the UMRCC.


The LMRCC ... provides the only regional forum dedicated to conserving the natural resources of the Mississippi’s floodplain and focuses on habitat restoration, long-term conservation planning and nature-based economic development.

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