Maps tell many stories

Maps are bursting with information and surprises. They can help with researching many different topics, from house histories to family histories, from changes to our natural and built environment to the use of land over time. As someone I work with said, “Maps tell many stories”.

Finding the right maps can be tricky, but we’ve been working on making it easier. Now, when you’re looking for maps at State Library, you have three allies – the One Search catalogue, the staff at the desk, and a new port of call – the maps area on level 4.

The maps area in the John Oxley Library.

The maps area in the John Oxley Library. Image by SLQ staff.

The unassuming area has a cluster of really useful resources to guide your research.

  • Index maps give you the big picture view of our most important map series. They tell you what we hold, relevant dates, locations and other places you can find a series.
  • Some of the best map resources, such as the Atlas of Queensland and Northern Territory pastoral stations, have been moved to this area.
  • We’ve developed guides with suggestions for finding the best maps from our collections and the collections of other organisations (such as the indispensable Department of Natural Resources and Mines open datasets of historical digitised maps).

Digitising maps makes them easier to find and use. We recently digitised the Atlas of Queensland Electoral Maps, which provides index maps for the 1931 Queensland electoral districts map series. Electoral maps tell us the story of changes to electoral boundaries and other interesting information, such as how many electors are in each district.

Index map A for the 1931 Queensland Electoral Districts map series

Index map A for the 1931 Queensland Electoral Districts map series, Atlas of Queensland Electoral Maps. State Library of Queensland.

State Library’s unique collection of real estate maps is in the process of being digitised. As well as looking good, these maps can give information about how the land was subdivided, when it was first auctioned, who the surveyors were and who sold the land. They can be useful for investigating the history of urban land areas.

Estate map of Sefton Estate, Clayfield, Brisbane, Queensland

Estate map of Sefton Estate, Clayfield, Brisbane, Queensland. State Library of Queensland.

State Library has over 5,000 estate maps with over 700 already digitised. These can be viewed using the One Search catalogue.

More information about our map collection can be found on our website. If this blog has sparked your interest, come and visit us. We would love to help you find what you are looking for.


One Search catalogue

SLQ’s map resources webpage

Visit us at SLQ