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Historical Atlases

Ithaca Journal, The (NY) - Saturday, January 17, 2009

Historical atlases can be useful for research

Question: Where can a historical fiction writer find information about colonial America and Europe?

Answer: Resource materials from the library's reference collection provide a gold mine of information. From International Historical Statistics, Europe, 1750—1988, learn that in the 18th century approximately one in five Europeans lived in France, which had almost three times the population of Great Britain. However, according to the Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 and based on the first U.S. Census conducted in 1790, the English outnumbered the French by nearly 60 to 1.

Historical atlases are useful research tools and complement printed sources by portraying information graphically. Atlases map oceans, continents and countries and information that is not geographical, such as climates, terrains, conflicts and even food.

A useful population atlas can be found online as well. The Tacitus Historical Atlas,, relies on some information from the reference works cited above and presents a graphic, linked way of getting the numbers.

Today's question was answered by the Reference Services team at TCPL. Send your questions by e-mail to, or call 272-4557 or visit the library at 101 E. Green St.

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