The Library of Congress is a venerable treasure trove of historic cartography, 19th century infographics, and other data visualization from days of yore. Only a fraction of the more than 5.5 million maps and 80,000 atlases in the library’s collection are available online, and what is available can be a bit hard to sift through. But it’s now easier than ever to find high-quality of prints of these beautiful centuries-old data visualizations.
Brooklyn-based developer and data viz designer Jonathan Soma took the Library of Congress’s collection of Census Atlases and other beautiful remnants of early U.S. data visualization and turned it into a user-friendly site where you can search visualizations by type, topic, and more. Earlier this year, frustrated by the process of trying to get some of these gorgeous old maps printed, Soma and the Brooklyn Brainery, an educational organization he co-founded, launched Vintage Visualizations, a shop to buy all your favorite old-timey map art.
That includes maps like the first red state/blue state electoral map; visualizations of the rates of death by consumption in 1870 and corn production in 1880; and charts and graphs like this colorful visualization of the breakdown of religious groups in each state, the federal debt, and the foreign-born population of each state in 1890.
Being from the Library of Congress, technically, you could go through the legwork of downloading and printing cartographical masterpieces like “Railroad map showing the lands of the Standard Coal and Iron Co. situated in the Hocking Valley, Ohio, and their relation to the markets of the north and west” for free, but without a high-end printing operation, you might as well just let the professionals do it for you.