Geography and Maps Research Guide

The State Historical Society of Missouri’s collections contain cartographic materials including maps, atlases, and aerial photography. The collections include the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Maps, Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service Aerial Photographs, and numerous reference materials.

Articles from Missouri Historical Review and Missouri Times


Many of the State Historical Society of Missouri’s holdings are included in the SHSMO online catalog. Numerous titles can be found by typing the keywords “Missouri geography” into the search bar.


The State Historical Society of Missouri has many manuscript collections containing primary materials on specific communities or areas.

View All Geography Manuscript Collections


Map Collection

The State Historical Society of Missouri is home to thousands of unique Missouri maps chronicling our state and territorial history, western exploration, and the complexities of westward expansion.

In addition to the individual maps, many of our manuscript collections also contain rare, unpublished, annotated, and sometimes even hand-drawn maps and diagrams that are of considerable interest.

View Map Digital Collection

Plat Maps

County plat books or atlases contain descriptions of land owners and landmarks. Utilizing the Public Land Survey System, each map is divided into township, range, and sections. Owners of these divisions of land are identified on the maps, which sometimes also include landmarks such as churches, cemeteries, and schools. Many plat books contain a brief county history and a directory of county residents.

The online collection contains plat maps of Missouri counties published between 1875 and 1917. Additional plat maps are available at the State Historical Society of Missouri’s research centers.

View Plat Map Digital Collection


The Aerial Photograph Collection is a special collection of images taken from the late 1930s to the 1960s. The digital collection contains a select number of counties. Additional counties and images are available through the research centers.

View Aerial Photograph Digital Collection

Outside Resources

These links, which open in another window, will take you outside the Society's website. The Society is not responsible for the content of the following websites.

MU Digital Library Sanborn Maps of Missouri