Map resources for Mississippi are plentiful and include both hard copy and digital map data as well as aerial photographs and satellite images, which are also commonly available in digital format and on the Internet.
Among the numerous widely available road atlases, DeLorme offers highly detailed, large-format topographic and street map atlases of all fifty US states, with substantial recreational information and detail. Other recreational maps exist for Mississippi’s six national forests.
Perhaps the most well-known maps produced by the federal government covering all of Mississippi are the 7.5 minute topographic quadrangles produced by the US Geological Survey. These are useful for general reference, urban and regional planning, and development and recreation, with detailed information at a scale of 1:24,000 (one inch = 2,000 feet). Each map measures 22 inches by 27 inches and covers an area of about 64 square miles. The University of Mississippi has the state’s most complete holdings, with all current maps as well as older federal maps, which are useful for tracking land use changes through time. In addition to the 1:24,000 map series, the University of Mississippi also has the 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 topographic maps. Other state public universities hold some federal maps. Mississippi State University, for example, has complete holdings of the 1:24,000 scale quadrangles for the whole state but generally keeps only the most current maps.
Finally, the Special Collections Department at Mississippi State holds a collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps from the late 1800s to early 1900s for more than one hundred Mississippi cities, showing detail down to outlines of specific buildings. As the library website states, “They are an excellent resource for anyone researching specific buildings, communities, or industries. The maps generally show commercial or industrial districts, nearby residential neighborhoods, or rapidly growing parts of town.”
Aerial photography and satellite images provide insightful perspectives on Mississippi’s present and historic landscape. Aerial photographs were taken between 1980 and 1989 through the National High Altitude Program, which produced 1:80,000-scale maps, and subsequently through the National Aerial Photography Program, which provides standardized sets of cloud-free photographs at 1:40,000 scale covering the United States over five- to seven-year cycles. This program’s products offer the most recent and consistent source of high-quality aerial photography.
Since 1955 the Aerial Photography Field Office of the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency has acquired aerial photography during the growing season in the continental United States as part of the National Agriculture Imagery Program. In addition, the department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service creates black and white aerial photographs with annotation regarding soil-type boundaries, as an important component of its information-rich county soil surveys.
Satellite images of Mississippi are available at the US Geological Survey website. Typically, these data are intended for professional and scientific use and are distributed in digital formats that require specialized training and software. However, Google Maps, Google Earth, the US Geological Survey’s National Map website, and other sources now make satellite images, aerial photography, and interactive maps accessible to the general public.
Finally, the Mississippi Automated Resource Information Service provides digital map data for the state that can be downloaded or viewed interactively. Users can choose which “themes” they want to see, such as utilities, political, transportation, geographic, and many others.
- Google Earth website, www.google.com/earth
- Google Maps website, www.google.com/maps
- J. D. Williams Library, University of Mississippi
- Mississippi Automated Resource Information Service website, www.maris.state.ms.us
- Special Collections Library, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University
- US Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Photography Field Office website, www.apfo.usda.gov
- US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Web Soil Survey website, http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm
- US Geological Survey website, www.usgs.gov
- US Geological Survey National Map website, nationalmap.gov