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Historical maps

The Library am Guisanplatz (BiG) owns a collection of historical maps dating back to the 17th century. This includes maps of Switzerland, printed local maps and hand-drawn maps of Switzerland and the surrounding countries.

Plan of Bern from the Schauenburg collection of the Library Am Guisanplatz, 1798.
Plan of Bern from the Schauenburg collection of the Library Am Guisanplatz, 1798.

The Library am Guisanplatz (BiG) has an extensive collection of around a thousand atlases and 30,000 maps, some of which date back to the 17th century. The geographical focus is on Swiss territory and its neighbouring countries. The collection includes both topographical and thematic maps, in particular relating to military history.

New acquisitions are mainly national maps of Switzerland.

Special maps

Of particular note are the extensive collections relating to the Franco-Prussian War, the First World War and the Second World War. Of particular interest is the Schauenburg collection, which contains 18th century maps. The originals are held in the Bern state archive; the BiG possesses facsimiles.

Wurstemberger/Finsler collection

The private Wurstemberger/Finsler collection contains some remarkable treasures from the time of Johann Ludwig Wurstemberger (1783­–1862) and Hans Conrad Finsler (1765–1839), who successively held the office of Oberstquartiermeister (cf. quarter-master general) in the Swiss army. In this capacity they promoted the survey of the country in the early the 19th century.

The descendants of von Wurstemberger continued adding to the private map collection into the 20th century.

In 2011 the BiG received these two or three hundred maps along with a large number of books.

The collection contains numerous unique hand-drawn maps, many unfortunately unsigned but most probably the work of Johann von Wurstemberger and Johann Conrad Finsler. The printed maps include some important wall maps, the Scheuchzer Map (1712), a map of the Bern area by Thomas Schöpf (1672) and a large map by Frederick de Wit (c. 1660) being of particular note.

The maps held by the BiG can be found in the Alexandria research portal; longer-held items are being added on an ongoing basis. Some of the maps have been digitised and can be downloaded from the internet.


Library Am Guisanplatz Information and Documentation Services
Papiermühlestrasse 21a
CH-3003 Bern
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+41 58 464 50 95

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Library Am Guisanplatz

Information and Documentation Services
Papiermühlestrasse 21a
CH-3003 Bern

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