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This guide is intended to assist those doing research in the area of Geography.

Primary Sources FAQ

What is a primary source?

How do I find resources in the Special Collections Research Center?

  • Check the catalog for your topic (if it's here the location will be Special Collections).
  • Check out our website with links to primary materials for various subjects.
  • Or better yet, make an appointment and speak with a librarian in Special Collections at (202) 994-7459 or

Why should I use primary sources?

  • Challenging: You become the scholar!
  • Rewarding: Original documents often evoke a sense of time and place.
  • Impressive: Professors will love you!

Contacting the Special Collections Research Center

Special Collections Research Center, Gelman Library
2130 H St., NW, Suite 704
Washington, DC 20052
(202) 994-7549
For manuscripts and collections inquiries:

For University Archives inquiries:

Primary Sources in Geography at Gelman Library

The Special Collections Research Center has maps related to the Holy Land and the city of Washington, D.C.  These two most prominent topics are listed in descriptions found on this page.

Primary Sources on Geography at Other Local Repositories

Library of Congress map collection: The Geography and Map Division (G&M) has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5 million maps, 72,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, over 500 globes and globe gores, and numerous plastic relief models, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats, including electronic.

Library of Congress online map collection: The focus of Map Collections is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of the Library of Congress.  


ArchiveGrid is a database where thousands of museums, libraries, and archives have contributed information about their collections, including catalog records and/or finding aids.


GW Libraries • 2130 H Street NW • Washington DC