Thomas R. Smith Map Collection

The Thomas R. Smith Map Collection, located on the first floor of Anschutz Library at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, is among the largest academic map collections in the United States. It was founded by the late Professor Thomas R. Smith of the Department of Geography. The map collection was previously located in Kenneth Spencer Research Library, more recently in Malott Hall, and moved to its present location in Anschutz Library in 1995.


The map collection includes over 440,000 paper maps and air photographs. The topographic and thematic maps cover all areas of the world, with particular strength in maps of Kansas and of the U.S.A. Holdings include maps of U.S. cities, states, roads, national parks and forests, and thematic maps of geology, vegetation, economy, population, etc., as well as a nearly comprehensive collection of USGS topographic maps. We have similar, although less extensive, holdings of foreign thematic maps. Our foreign topographic map holdings, strongest for the WWII era, vary in date and level of detail but are supplemented by good holdings of aeronautical and nautical charts. Most of the maps in our collection date from the early 20th century to the present, although the U.S. Serials Set of maps from U.S. Congressional reports includes both 19th-century and 20th-century maps. Apart from the U.S. Serials Set, and a few other categories, most of the maps in the T.R. Smith Map Collection can be checked out.

Digital Maps and Spatial Data

The KU Libraries have digital maps and data on CD-ROMs, primarily from government agencies. Much of this information is now freely available online, along with a profusion of digital data (tabular, spatial, etc.) from local, state, federal and international governments and other agencies. Please check the Library GIS guide for links to common datasets or contact GIS and Data Lab staff for assistance with digital data in various formats.

Aerial Photographs

The aerial photograph collection includes mainly Kansas coverage and small selected holdings for other geographical areas. The state of Kansas is covered almost comprehensively on a set of aerial photograph film negatives from the 1986 reappraisal survey (arranged by counties). This film may only be consulted in the T.R. Smith Map Collection or copied by arrangement. We also have other aerial photo coverage for some Kansas counties in a mixture of formats (paper prints and film negatives and positives). Sets of aerial photographs of Douglas County (including Lawrence) dating from 1937, 1941, 1954, 1966, 1976, and 1986 are accessible online.


Most of the KU Libraries' general geographical atlases (those with Library of Congress call numbers beginning with 'G' which are in folio and oversize formats) are located in the T.R. Smith Map Collection. These include road atlases and some historical and environmental atlases. Most of these atlases circulate and can be checked out by patrons at the T.R. Map collection circulation desk. However, smaller general geographical atlases are to be found in the Anschutz 1 South stacks (adjacent to the T.R. Smith Map Collection) and should be checked out at the 3rd-floor circulation desk. Some thematic atlases about different subjects are also located in the T.R. Smith Map Collection, but most such atlases are shelved throughout Anschutz, Watson, and Spencer Libraries (according to their subject matter by Library of Congress, or other, classification). In addition, the reference areas in Watson and Spencer Library include small selections of atlases. Items held in the Spencer Research Library may be viewed by scheduling an appointment with the Reading Room.

Plastic Relief Maps and Globes

The T.R. Smith Map Collection has a small number of plastic relief maps, as well as a number of globes.

Gazetteers and Map Reference Books

The T.R. Smith Map Collection includes gazetteers and other reference works that are helpful in locating and learning about geographical places. There are also some reference books about cartography, but most such books and periodicals are shelved in the general library collections (those with Library of Congress 'G' and 'GA' call numbers are in the Anschutz 1 South stacks adjacent to the T.R. Smith Map Collection).

Using the T.R. Smith Map Collection