In this age of Google Maps and GPS, will paper maps become useless? Not so, says David Rumsey. The longtime map collector has been digitizing maps for almost 20 years and opened the David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford University in April 2016. The center, which features more than 150,000 items (including 67,000 maps accessible online), allows the public to compare centuries-old maps to their current-day locations, to see changes in cityscapes, population, and housing—even shifts in land due to climate change. We talk to David Rumsey, who donated his entire collection to Stanford University, and Salim Mohammed, the center’s curator, about how digitizing maps makes them even more relevant today.

Related Links:

Stanford Opens Massive Digital Map Archive to Public 16 June,2016Michael Krasny

David Rumsey, founder, The David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford University
G. Salim Mohammed, head and curator, The David Rumsey Map Center

  • Ben Rawner

    Are there any maps of the gold rush and various mining claims?

  • KC

    I consider myself spatially challenged.. but my 4 and half year old son is already quite a map geek.. he finds airports on the maps, he is constantly looking at the maps on the iPad and our phones.. what’s some advice you have for kids interested in maps..are there maps that kids might find more interesting..

  • Patrick Williams

    I’ve used the mid to late 1800’s US Coast maps of the National Geodetic Survey for study of changing landforms associated with earthquake deformation. These are generally wonderful maps with lots of detail of uplands as well as the coastline. It would be wonderful to have a searchable source for this whole map set. Most of it was at Berkeley I believe. I think that collection is no longer accessible.

    Thanks for all you do Micheal!


Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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