San Francisco collector David Rumsey has donated 150,000 maps of the Americas, along with digitized images of many of the maps, to Stanford University.
Stanford will be housing the maps in its University Libraries' Special Collections, and Rumsey's digitized images and website will be stored in a digital preservation archive. Most of the maps were drawn between 1700 and 1925.
"I wanted to ensure the preservation not only of the original materials but also the digital copies I made. I knew Stanford would be the best place for them," Rumsey said in a press release.
Rumsey has been collecting maps of the Americas for three decades, after he first saw an 1839 atlas showing Texas as an independent republic. As a kid, he said, he was always fascinated with details and exotic places he saw from being a subscriber to the National Geographic magazine.
The donated collection includes a first edition of Lewis and Clark's 1814 travel book about their travels across the American West.
Rumsey said he started digitizing his collection because he wanted to share the images with the public without having to sell them. In 1999, he and Julie Sweetkind-Singer started digitizing the maps, and he has since posted about 18,500 images online.
Sweetkind-Singer is now the head librarian of the Branner Earth Sciences Library and Map Collections for Stanford. She has been cataloging the wall maps, world atlases, pocket maps and other items given by Rumsey.
Rumsey said he hopes his donation will inspire other collectors to donate their pieces for the community. He is planning to add about 3,000 to 5,000 more images to his website, www.davidrumsey.com, a year.