Alabama Maps

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This entry was originally written by Robert S. Davis and Mary Bess Paluzzi for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
Alabama sil.png
the Alabama Family History Research series.
History of Alabama
Alabama Vital Records
Census Records for Alabama
Background Sources for Alabama
Alabama Maps
Alabama Land Records
Alabama Probate Records
Alabama Court Records
Alabama Tax Records
Alabama Cemetery Records
Alabama Church Records
Alabama Military Records
Alabama Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Alabama Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Alabama Immigration
African Americans of Alabama
Native Americans of Alabama
Alabama County Resources
Map of Alabama

Several books of Alabama locations, place-names, boundaries, and maps exist. The most important are discussed in Robert S. Davis, Tracing Your Alabama Past (see Background Sources for Alabama). Changes in county boundaries are shown in detail on modern county maps in Peggy Tuck Sinko, Alabama: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1996). Volume 1 of W. Craig Remington and Thomas J. Kallsen, Historical Atlas of Alabama (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, Department of Geography, 1997) locates historical sites on modern maps.

All of Alabama has been mapped in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Alabama (see page 5). These topographic quadrangle maps show selected man-made and natural features as well as the shape and elevation of features. Features include state, county, and municipal boundary lines; townships, ranges, roads, railroads, and buildings; and mountains, valleys, streams, and rivers. The earliest survey maps for Alabama are dated from 1901. Modern maps are indexed in volume 4 of Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America (Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1991) and at the USGS website (see page 5).

The Alabama Highway Department has prepared a series of county road maps. These maps contain more detailed information about man-made features than the geological survey maps. In addition to roads and boundaries, these maps include rural communities, churches, and cemeteries. The maps are available for a nominal fee from the Alabama Highway Department, Bureau of Planning and Programming, Montgomery, AL 36130.

Another important series of maps for incorporated municipalities is the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps (see page 5). These maps, dating from 1884 to 1950, include 110 Alabama communities. The maps indicate street names, property boundaries, building use, and, in some cases, property owners. Originals are available in the Library of Congress and in the University of Alabama Library. They were microfilmed (twelve reels) in 1982 by Chadwyck-Healy of Alexandria, Virginia.

Sara Elizabeth Mason’s bibliography, A List of Nineteenth Century Maps of the State of Alabama (Birmingham: Birmingham Public Library, 1973) is very helpful in identifying and locating early Alabama maps. The list includes the holdings of the library of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Auburn University in Auburn, the University of Alabama, Samford University, Mobile Public Library, and Birmingham Public Library (see Alabama Archives, Libraries, and Societies). Descriptive annotations as well as detailed physical descriptions add to the usefulness of the list.

The Rucker Agee Map Collection, a privately acquired donation at the Birmingham Public Library, is an incomparable collection of maps documenting the cartographic history of the southeast and in particular Alabama.