The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has catalogued 2,463 maps in its collection. About 1,200 are maps published from the sixteenth through twentieth centuries or hand-drawn maps of towns, localities, plantations, and battlefields. The rest are topographic quadrangle maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey in the mid twentieth century. A large collection of early twentieth-century Mississippi county soil maps was added in 2004; an example is included in this exhibit.
Twenty-two maps from the collection are featured in this online exhibit. The earliest is a triptych printed by the famous Dutch cartographer Abraham Ortelius in 1588, including La Florida, drawn by Geronimo Chaves. In his book The Southeast in Early Maps, William P. Cumming called La Florida "one of the half-dozen most important mother maps of southeastern North America." Several maps in the exhibit trace the history of Mississippi from early exploration through colonial expansion, the territorial period, and statehood. Others are hand-drawn plans and plats of towns, such as P.A. Van Dorn's original plan for the city of Jackson in 1822.
Many maps can also be found in other collections, such as official records and personal papers. One such example is included in this exhibit, the colorful hand-drawn map by B.L.C. Wailes of the town of Washington, Mississippi, from the town's 1838 Minute Book.