Iowa Map & Atlas Guide

Any Historical Iowa Map can indicate who owned specific property in the state and which towns held the county seat at the time.  This information is a valuable starting point for your research pointing you to the right location of records.

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Solving Research Problems with a Iowa Maps – If you have started your family research, you might have experienced trouble with trying to identify Iowa city borders and names that have changed over the course of time. This can make it difficult to understand where your ancestors’ information is kept.

Because Iowa historic maps were usually commissioned by the county seat, they often display information about the county, including town names. Reading a Iowa map from the time period you are researching can help tremendously in solving these problems by leading you to the correct town records. It can also give you other leads, such as the location of city directories or old post offices in Iowa.

Iowa Map of Counties

Iowa Map of Counties

Choosing the Best Iowa Map – If you have a large source of maps to choose from, try starting with the area where your ancestors resided and looking for the maps with the most detail.  You can determine a lot by seeing if the area was still rural or more developed, and how far it was to the nearest city.  This can shed light on your family’s lifestyle and occupation. Were they farmers who lived in the country, or merchants who traveled often to a nearby city?  A map can give you an idea of what occupations were possible.

The earliest Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Iowa is from 1883. 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.

Current county maps for Iowa can be ordered from 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.

Iowa Map of County Formations For The Years 1816-1872

These Iowa maps shows the historical changes to Iowa counties from 1816 to 1872. This Interactive Iowa map is made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company.

Slideshow image
Iowa County Formation years
1816 1818 1821 1834 1836 1837 1838 1840 1841 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848
1849 1850 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861 1865 1870
1871 1872                          
Iowa Census Year with Modern Map overlayed:
1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 - 1930              
Iowa Map Abbreviations
unorg. = unorganized
g. = gained
w. = with
fr. = from
atmt. = attachment
exch = exchanged
nca.= non county area
ch. = changed

Adm - Adams
Adr - Adair
Al - Allamakee
Ap - Appanoose
Au - Audubon
Be - Benton
BH - Black Hawk
Bo - Boone
Br - Bremer
Buc - Buchanan
But - Butler
BV - Buena Vista
Cal - Calhoun
Car - Carroll
Cas - Cass
Ced - Cedar
CG - Cerro Gordo
Che - Cherokee
Chi - Chickasaw
Clk - Clarke
Cly - Clay
Cnn - Clinton
Cra - Crawford
Cyn - Clayton
Dal - Dallas
Dav - Davis
Dec - Decatur
Del - Delaware
Di - Dickinson
DM - Des Moines
Du - Dubuque
Em - Emmet
Fa - Fayette
Fl - Floyd
Fra - Franklin
Fre - Fremont
Gre - Greene
Gru - Grundy
Gu - Guthrie
Ham - Hamilton
Han - Hancock
Hdn - Hardin
He - Henry
Ho - Howard
Hsn - Harrison
Hu - Humboldt
Ida - Ida
Io - Iowa
Jac - Jackson
Jas - Jasper
Je - Jefferson
Joh - Johnson
Jon - Jones
Ke - Keokuk
Ko - Kossuth
Lee - Lee
Li - Linn
Lo - Louisa
Lu - Lucas
Ly - Lyon
Mad - Madison
Mah - Mahaska
Mil - Mills
Mit - Mitchell
Mna - Monona
Mrn - Marion
Mro - Monroe
Msl - Marshall
Mty - Montgomery
Mu - Muscatine
OB - O'Brien
Os - Osceola
PA - Palo Alto
Pag - Page
Pl - Plymouth
Poc - Pocahontas
Pol - Polk
Pot - Pottawattamie
Pow - Poweshiek
Rin - Ringgold
Sac - Sac
Sc - Scott
Sh - Shelby
Si - Sioux
St - Story
Tam - Tama
Tay - Taylor
Un - Union
VB - Van Buren
Wap - Wapello
War - Warren
Was - Washington
Way - Wayne
We - Webster
Win - Winnebago
Woo - Woodbury
Wor - Worth
Wr - Wright
Wsk - Winneshiek

Iowa Maps & Atlases

1866 Iowa MapThe David Rumsey Historical Iowa Map Collection is scanned from original copies so you can see Iowa as our ancestors saw them over a hundred years ago.

Some Iowa map years (not all) have cities, railroads, P.O. locations, township outlines and other features useful to the Iowa researcher.

Iowa Map of D.O.T. County Road and Highway’s

Iowa County DOT MapThe Iowa Highway Department has prepared a series of county road maps. These maps contain more detailed information about man-made features than the geological survey maps. In addition to roads and boundaries, these maps include rural communities, churches, and cemeteries.

These maps are downloadable and are in PDF format. The main use of these are the locations of all known cemeteries in a county and of course the various roads and church locations. These Maps are Free to Download

External Iowa Map Links

U.S. State Map Guides