For many years the Bodleian's maps were not catalogued on SOLO; the main map catalogue was a card catalogue. Maps are now all included in SOLO, but users can still access an online Flipbook of the images of cards from the catalogue (see box to the right). This is useful for some historical enquiries.
Manuscript maps can be seen in the RBMSS reading room in the Weston Library. You’ll need to either:
You fill in a green slip with the following information:
This enables users to browse images of the Map Room's original card catalogue. The great majority of maps can now be searched for on SOLO so that's the best place to start looking for maps. Most of the records on the Flipbook are duplicated on SOLO. However, the Flipbook is useful for finding records for older maps in books in Bodleian departments outside the Map Room, as there is often no other record of their existence.
We recommend using Firefox or Chrome to access the Flipbook. The card images are arranged in the same order as the original cards so this reproduces the experience of using the card catalogue as closely as possible. As this was a long-established catalogue, some of the terms used may seem old fashioned, and a few of the place names are no longer current. Maps of St Petersburg from the Soviet period are under Leningrad, for example, and West Papua has its own section under West Irian, rather than being a subsection of Indonesia. All maps of the area of Israel and Palestine, from any period, are under Israel.
The main part of the card catalogue is arranged by place, following a pattern established many years ago which may initially appear a little confusing. The cards are arranged alphabetically under the name of the continent or country. Cards for atlases are filed at the beginning of each section in date order. Entries for maps published before 1850 come next, in date order (this includes modern facsimiles of early maps). Cards for maps dating from after 1850 are filed next, in order of scale.
Cards for maps of major portions of a country, of counties, towns, rivers and lakes are catalogued under the name of the country followed by the name of the division, county, town, island etc. For example:
Canada - Northwestern
England & Wales: dist. Oxfordshire
Germany: tn. Hamburg
China: Is. Hainan
Thematic maps (showing a particular subject) are listed in the following order: Boundaries, Cartography, Climate, General communications, Air communications, Radio communications, Railways, Roads, Telecommunications, Waterways, Ecclesiastical, Ecology, Economic, Educational, Electoral, Ethnographical, Expeditions, Geological, Historical, Judicial, Land utilisation, Local administration, Medical, Population, Satellite imagery, Settlement, Soils, Sport, Vegetation. Note that this is largely, but not entirely, alphabetical.
Islands are usually listed under the country to which they belong - so for Crete, for example, search under Greece. However, there are a few surprising exceptions - Gozo is under Gozo (rather than Malta). Independent countries within the Windward Islands (such as Barbados) are listed under Windward Islands. If you have difficulty finding anywhere, please get in touch with the Map Room and ask for help.
Celestial and star maps are under Universe; maps of individual planets are under the name of the planet.
The following diagram is a picture of two sample drawers from the catalogue to show how the cards were arranged:
As well as the main geographical sequence, the pre-1850 maps are also indexed by mapmaker. These are in a separate section of the Flipbook, the Mapmakers' Index. This is simply an alphabetical listing by surname.
There is an online request form, the red envelope symbol to the top right of the card image.