Flickr’s The Commons is a great place to find all kinds of interesting historical photographs from museums and libraries all over the world. Recently, The British Library added a new collection of maps to Flickr’s The Commons. The new collection is called the King’s Topographical Collection and it contains more than 17,000 historical maps and images related to maps.
The King’s Topographical Collection is comprised of maps and drawings produced between 1500 and 1824. You can browse through, view, and download all of the maps and drawings in the collection. Unfortunately, the ability to search within the collection on Flickr is limited to just using “control+F” to search for words on the displayed page. When you do find something you like, click the download button on the image to save it in resolution of your choice.
Applications for Education
The lack of a good search function is a limiting factor in using this collection in a meaningful way. That said, if you have the time to browse through it there could be some good materials to overlay onto Google Earth to make comparisons of historical maps and current maps. Of course, you could also just have students browse the collection to see if there is something that sparks their curiosity and then use that to jump into a little research activity.
Here’s an overview of how to overlay historical imagery onto current Google Earth imagery.
H/T to Open Culture.