This collection focuses on four centuries of historical maps of Illinois and the Northwest Territory; however, the collection also contains maps from all over North and South America. The content of the collection also includes maps from the Newberry Library in Chicago.
The Map Library maintains a comprehensive collection of over 190,000 aerial photographs for all Illinois counties, with the earliest photographs from the late 1930s and the most recent from 2005. Most of the photographs are black-and-white and are either 6 x 9 or 9 x 9 inches. Photographs taken before 1988 are county-based sets and are at an approximate scale of 1:20,000. Each year has its own index. Beginning in 1988, photography of the state was created as a state-wide set, at a scale of approximately 1:40,000. These photographs are quarter-quadrangle centered. Most of the photographs are products of the United States Department of Agriculture or the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with state agencies.
The Historical Aerial Photo Imagebase contains digitized aerial photographs of locations in Champaign, Cook, Fulton, Will, Peoria, and Mason counties, most of them taken between 1938 and 1940. The images in the collection are searchable by county, year, and geographical feature.
The University Library’s collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps includes maps for Illinois towns; rural settings are not included. Sanborn maps were produced to assist insurance underwriters in determining fire insurance rates for individual buildings by examining the buildings' construction methods, heat and lighting sources and manufacturing uses, and the same attributes of nearby buildings. The maps primarily provide information on the downtown areas of cities and adjoining residential areas.
The World War I maps collection contains maps and atlases published shortly before, during, and after World War I. The maps included cover all areas of the world showing the course of the war and its economic, political, and social contexts. Types of maps encompass propaganda maps, trench maps and other maps of battles and fronts, ethnographic and economic maps, maps and atlases for citizens at home, and maps created to support work of the United States delegation to the Paris Peace Conference.