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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Among the standard map references for Iowa, in addition to the numerous county atlases for all areas of the state, is Alfred Theodore Andreas’s Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, 1875 (1875; reprint; Iowa City: State Historical Society, 1970), which superbly illustrates towns and farms, specifically locating patrons to the publication. An indexed patron’s list with place of residence, county and state of birth, and year of emigration is included.
The earliest Sanborn Fire Insurance map (see page 5) of Iowa is from 1883. The State Historical Society of Iowa publishes and sells Fire Insurance Maps of Iowa Cities and Towns: A List of Holdings, compiled by Peter H. Curtis and assisted by Richard S. Green and Edward N. McConnell (Iowa City: Iowa State History Department, 1983), which lists the society’s collection. All fire insurance maps (Sanborn and others) have been compiled into one microfilm collection that is at both branches of the State Historical Society research library, the University of Iowa, and the Library of Congress. Of the approximately 4,000 Iowa maps included in both locations of the State Historical Society of Iowa library, the Des Moines branch has original plat maps created by the territorial land surveyors.
Newberry Library’s Checklist of Printed Maps of the Middle West to 1900, 11 vols. (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980) lists all known pre-1900 plat maps and plat books for the state of Iowa. The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries: Iowa (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1998) may also be helpful.
Current county maps for Iowa can be ordered by sending check or money order to the Iowa Department of Transportation. The maps are fairly easy to read, divided by townships and sections, and show highways, railroads, cities and towns, and rivers and streams.