Maps banner The California History Section's collection of maps exceeds 5,000 items. The collection features maps of individual cities and towns, as well as maps delineating overland trails and sea routes to California. Highlights include a map of California as an island from the 16th century, James Marshall's hand-drawn map showing where he discovered gold, and official county survey maps made in the late 19 th century. The collection also includes Sanborn Fire Insurance maps.

To complement the California History collection, the State Library's Government Publications Section collection houses a wide selection of maps produced by government agencies.

Original maps smaller than 12” x 17”can be photocopied by library staff for a fee. Original maps larger than 12” x 17”may be reproduced by photographic reproduction or microfilming only. logoReproductions of selected maps from our collection may also be purchased from


The State Library Catalog can be used to identify a portion of the collection, specifically the maps most recently added. However, a special card index located in the California History Room must be used to search the entire historical map collection. Other finding aids are available to identify Sanborn maps.

Viewing maps

Many of the historical maps in the collection have been reproduced on microfiche. These may be viewed on readers in our Microfilm Room. Sanborn maps are available on microfilm. All original maps must be viewed in our Rare Materials Reading Room. (This room is climate controlled to protect the collections housed there, and it can be chilly.) Cameras may be used, without flash, to make reference copies. The use of scanners is not allowed.

Obtaining reproductions

Coin-operated reader/printers in our Microfilm Room can be used to make copies from map microfiche. A large-format microform reader/printer, utilizing 11” x 17” paper, is particularly well-suited to printing maps. Each print from this machine costs 50 cents (two quarters). If you plan on using the reader/printers, we suggest that you bring a supply of quarters, as we have very limited change available.

We also have microform scanners which do not provide print copies but you can email scans to yourself or copy scans to a flashdrive free of charge. You may wish to bring a flashdrive with you for these machines.