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Vernacular Architecture Research Guide : Primary Sources: Maps and Aerial Photos

Map repositories on UW-Madison campus

Robinson Map Library, UW-Madison campus

Geography Library, UW-Madison campus

UW Digital Collections Center, UW-Madison campus, provides a wealth of Wisconsin-related material online in their State of Wisconsin Collection.  Search within the collection for "aerial views", for example, or for digitized atlases and plat maps.

Wisconsin Historical Society/Archives, located on UW-Madison campus

General information about their collections:

About their map and atlas collection:

About their visual materials collection:
(search for "aerial photographs," for example)


Wisconsin Land Survey

Wisconsin Public Land Survey
The field notes and plat maps of the public land survey of Wisconsin are a valuable resource for original land survey information, as well as for understanding Wisconsin's landscape history. The survey of Wisconsin was conducted between 1832 and 1866 by the federal General Land Office. This work established the township, range and section grid; the pattern upon which land ownership and land use is based. The UW Digital Collection Center, in conjunction with the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, is in process of providing online access to this survey information.

Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory

Also called the "Bordner Survey," the inventory officially began in 1929.  Its mission was to document the current and potential use of land in all parts of the state of Wisconsin so that abandoned farms, cutover forests, and other "idle" land could be resettled, reforested, or otherwise put to productive use.  Today, these maps document the history of the Wisconsin landscape, particularly during the Depression era.

About the survey:

Browse/search via:


NOTE:  Original paper copies for the Sanborn Insurance Company maps for Wisconsin are housed in the Archives Division on the 4th floor of the Wisconsin Historical Society building at 816 State Street.  Hours are 8-5, Monday through Friday, and 9-4 on Saturday.  The Library Catalog does not contain information on what is available.  The scope of the collection of the original paper copies of the Wisconsin Sanborn maps is slightly more limited than that of the microfilm collection, as some of the later revisions are not available in the originals.



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