Man donates 150,000 maps to Stanford

February 6, 2009 11:19:41 AM PST
A retired San Francisco real estate developer announced recently that he is donating a collection of about 150,000 historical maps to Stanford University.

David Rumsey had spent three decades collecting maps of the Americas, most of which were drawn between 1700 and 1925 but decided to donate them to the university, according to Stanford officials.

Rumsey, who is posting much of his collection online at, is also donating the digital copies of the maps.

The maps will be housed in the University Libraries' Special Collections, while the digitized images will be stored in the university's digital preservation archive, according to Stanford officials.

Rumsey has already handed over 20 items, various wall maps, world atlases and pocket maps, that are valued at more than $1 million. Among the first batch of items is a first edition of Lewis and Clark's 1814 travel book chronicling their trip westward across America.

Rumsey's Web site went live in 2000, and since then he has posted about 18,500 images from his collection online and plans to add about 3,000 to 5,000 each year.

While Rumsey has agreed for his entire collection to be donated, details of when certain maps will be given to the university still have to be worked out.

"Stanford is a pioneer in the digital library world," Rumsey said in a prepared statement. "When I was thinking of who to give my collection to, 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."