Free online old maps of Michigan; historic & historical. Includes county maps. From the 1800s and 1900s.
Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.
The works below are in three sections; ‘Old Michigan Maps and Atlases’, online ‘Collections of Historic Michigan Maps and Atlases’ and ‘Old Michigan Gazetteers’ (geographical directories); all from Michigan history. See the right column for more info about this website.
Old Michigan Maps and Atlases
A Plan of the Straits of St. Mary, and Michilimakinac,to shew the situation & importance of the two westernmost settlements of Canada for the fur trade
1750s? Publisher unknown
High resolution image of a good color map. Michigan was nearly all wilderness and counties had not yet been surveyed, so the interior of Michigan on this map is largely blank except for rivers. In addition to the map there is a written description of geography, commerce, government and history.
Albany, NY: Rawdon, Clark 1825
Covers the southeastern part of the State only.
Philadelphia: Finley 1826
Reveals which areas had been organized by the mid-1820s.
Philadelphia: Tanner 1833
High resolution image of a good color map. Included is a table of steam boat routes.
Find 14 more subject pages of books and articles about Michigan at the History of the Great Lakes States Directory.
Philadelphia: Young 1835
Apparently the meaning of the word “tourist” was somewhat different in the 1830s, as it is hard to imagine people making recreational trips to Michigan then. This map clearly shows that settlement had barely started in the northern half of the lower peninsula as of 1835.
See our page of links to Online Collections of Military Maps
embracing a great part of Iowa and Illinois, and the whole mineral region with a chart of the lakes. exhibiting the sections, the geological formations, and the general topography
This map is in fact mainly a map of the Michigan’s U.P. John Farmer was a pioneer map publisher based in Detroit who specialized in maps of Michigan and Wisconsin. If the title of this detailed and accurate map seems puzzling, with its references to Iowa and Illinois, it is because this map was published in sections which were sold separately, and the Wisconsin Historical Society has only this section.
Books and articles on Politics & Government in historic Michigan
Detroit: Farmer 1868
Especially useful for the indications of shipping routes on the Great Lakes.
Philadelphia: Gamble 1880
High resolution image of color map.
Atlas of the State of Michigan, including statistics and descriptions of its topography, hydrography, climate, natural and civil history, railways, educational institutions, material resources, etc.
Walling, H. F., compilor and editor,
Detroit: Tackabury 1873
Map of US.org
Scroll part-way down this webpage for the interactive online map, which shows the changing county borders over time, from 1790 to 1897. You can also see the county boundaries in each census year from 1820 to 1930.
Books and articles on Native American tribes in historic Michigan
Ann Arbor: Univ of Michigan 1931
Chapter headings include: Trails, Waterways and Portages, Mounds and other Earthworks, Villages and Campsites, Burying Grounds. There is also a map of important Indian trails to and from Michigan.
Miles, William, comp.
Lansing: Michigan Department of Education State Library Services 1975
Collections of Historic Michigan Maps and Atlases
According to the Michigan front page on Historic MapWorks, …”The state of Michigan collection contains 1,389 atlases spanning 311 years of growth and development (1696 through 2007). Within the atlases are 73,952 historical maps, illustrations, and histories…”
Bibliography of Printed Maps of Michigan 1804-1880. With a series of over one hundred Reproductions of maps constituting an historical atlas of the Great Lakes and Michigan.
Karpinski, Louis C.
Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission 1931
Koerner, Alberta G. Auringer, comp.
Washington: Library of Congress 1968
This bibliography describes 239 maps and atlases which depict the city of Detroit, Mich., its vicinity, the Detroit River, Wayne County, other towns in Wayne County during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the adjacent shore in Canada regardless of the date of publication. Most of the described maps are in the collections of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress.
Books and articles on Local, City, and County History in Michigan
Library of Congress
Various publishers and years of publication
Many of these are highly detailed pictures showing all buildings. The viewer at this site enables high-resolution zooms.
Michigan County Histories and Atlases
The Michigan County Histories and Atlases Digitization Project is comprised of 428 titles published before 1925. You can search, or browse by title, author or subject. The collection contains:
County and town histories.
Biographies. Many of the county histories contain large biographical sections, but there are also individual biographical volumes too.
Multi-volume photo collection sets entitled “Art Work” for the Lake Superior region, St. Clair county and Washtenaw county, published in the 1890s.
Atlases or plat books for many counties, often with directories. There are 131 atlases, nearly all published after 1870.
Michigan State University Libraries
Various publishers and years of publication
The collection contains a number of historic maps of Michigan as well as maps of Michigan State University, North America and the U.S.
This is a collaborative portal for accessing a number of online map collections worldwide. U.S. collections include;
The David Rumsey Collection
Harvard Library Collection
New York Public Library Collection
Leventhal Map Center at Boston Public Library
North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
Old Michigan Gazetteers
a description of the face of the country, soil, productions, public lands, internal improvements, commerce, government, climate, education, religious denominations, population, antiquities &c, &c., with a succinct history of the State, from the earliest period to the present time. Also a particular description of the counties, towns, villages, post offices, water courses, lakes, prairies, &c. Alphabetically arranged; with an appendix, containing the usual statistical tables, and a directory for emigrants, &c.
Blois, John T.
Detroit: Rood 1839
This is a detailed compendium of information about Michigan in 1839. Part One presents a “general view of the state,” describing Michigan’s geology, soil, climate and topography as well as its improvements, products, governance, religious and educational institutions, population, and antiquities. Part One also incorporates a “Succinct History of the State,” which treats major events from the era of French exploration through statehood. Part Two provides a general view of each county, including its seat of justice, principal towns and villages, waterways and natural resources, political subdivisions, and population. Part Three imparts similar information for all the organized townships, and includes a large section on Detroit. Finally, there are a few pages of advice for immigrants.
– from the Library of Congress American Memory website
This is a much earlier source of data for most Michigan counties than the county histories, which started to appear in the 1870s. Some sections of interest:
1837 population of counties, P. 152
An 1837 plan by the state to construct railroads, including routes and costs per mile. P. 78
Data about Great Lakes shipping. P. 101. For example, seventeen steamboats were under construction on Lake Erie in 1837, to add to the 42 steamboats and numerous sailing vessels already in operation. A steamship captain earned a minimum of about $50 per month, and a sailor about $16.
Detroit: Huntington, Lee 1856
An ambitious effort to provide lists of businessmen in every Michigan town and village. Many of the smallest places only list a postmaster, but directories for other towns seem surprisingly comprehensive.
Please visit our collection of 2,000+ selected online magazine and newspaper articles on 40 subjects, plus online map & vintage photo collections, at Century Past History Resources
Johnston’s Detroit City Directory and Advertising Gazetteer of Michigan with an Appendix carefully revised
Detroit: Johnston 1861
This is mainly a directory of all heads of household in Detroit, but there is much more. Numerous advertisements with illustrations are found throughout.
Some sections of interest:
All departments of the Detroit city government, with names of officials and their salaries, even including schools and teachers. P. 21
Brief descriptions of churches throughout Detroit. P. 31, followed by a church directory.
“Secret Societies” and other organizations, including the Masonic Order, Odd Fellows, Lafayette Benevolent Society, German Working Men’s Society, Catholic societies, etc. P. 33
The city’s financial report for 1860. P. 57
Detroit: R. L. Polk 1881
containing an epitomized history of Detroit; an alphabetical list of its citizens; a list of the officers of the municipal government; the officers of the United States, and the State officers and members of the Legislature of Michigan: also, every information relative to the time and place at which the several courts sit throughout the State; with a list of churches, associations, institutions, county officers, &c., &c.
Detroit: Harsha & Willcox 1845