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DHC 140 - Research Writing in the 21st Century

Digital Document Libraries

Digital libraries can provide you with primary documents about what was happening at times throughout history. Here are some recommended websites and meta-searchers:


Business Websites

Government Maps

Locate Geographic Features and Named Places

  • Natural Earth is a public domain map dataset with information available at the 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales. The dataset features tightly integrated vector and raster data which enable you to make a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps with cartography or GIS software. Natural Earth was built through a collaboration of many volunteers and is supported by the NACIS (North American Cartographic Information Society), and is free for use in any type of project (see our Terms of Use page for more information).
  • Geographic Names Information System [GNIS] - This site from the U.S. Geological Survey has a Basic Query that enables you to search the database for all U.S. geographic features, an Advanced Search that uses additional fields for more complex searches.  This site also enables you to search for features in Antarctica and to search the database for U.S. geographic features using the relevant Census Codes, Class Codes, GSA Codes, and OPM Codes.

U.S. Government Agencies Involved with Mapping


  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) offers several mapping products through the National Map.
    • Public domain map data can be previewed and downloaded at The National Map Viewer.
    • The most up-to-date edition of their famous topographic quadrangle map, with the latest digital improvements, is available at the US Topo link.
    • You can create custom maps of the United States using hundreds of authoritative map themes in the National Atlas of the United States.
    • You can search for, view, and download any of the more than 200,000 USGS Topographic Maps dating back to 1884 in the Historical Topographic Map Collection.