The A. E. Nordenskiöld Map Collection

In the late 1800s, the scientist and explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832-1901) assembled an extensive collection of historical maps, geographical literature and rare travel books. In 1997 the collection was included in UNESCO's Memory of the World register.

Nordenskiöld's library has 3,870 catalogued titles from the 1400s to the 1800s as well as a unique collection of historical maps. The Collection contains about 24,000 maps printed before the year 1800, in either atlases or as sheets. There are also manuscripts as well as maps printed during the 1800s.

Nordenskiöld's collection vividly depicts the development of Western countries' geographical knowledge. The maps and literature depict all continents, with a particular emphasis on Arctic areas. There is an almost complete series of the Geographica, the classic cartographic work by Claudius Ptolemy, as well as a considerable number of works related to the discovery of America.

In Doria there is a sample of digitized maps from the Nordenskiöld Collection freely available


  • Most of the collection has been catalogued in the HELKA database.
  • The A.E. Nordenskiöld Collection in the Helsinki University Library. Annotated Catalogue of Maps made up to 1800. Vol. I-III. Compiled by Ann-Mari Mickwitz, Leena Miekkavaara and Tuula Rantanen. Vol IV. Compiled by Tuula Rantanen. Helsinki 1979-1989. Vol V:1-2. By Cecilia af Forselles-Riska. Helsinki 1979-1995.
  • 1800s facsimile atlases and maps
  • Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia works to the year 1900
  • UNESCO's Memory of the World
  • Terra Cognita: maailma tulee tunnetuksi=kännedom om världen ökar=discovering the world. Editor Leena Pärssinen. Helsinki, 2000.

Further information: