4.2. The Cartographic Collection of the Map Room of the Hungarian Institute and Museum of War History
The Map Room of War History was founded in its present form in 1954. The backbone of its total
collection was made up of two sets of earlier materials:
The collection of the Map Room grew steadily partly by old maps (heritages, materials of other
discontinued collections), partly by new acquisitions (military map series, aerial photographs, other
civil maps). The total collection now numbers nearly 400,000 items (maps, atlases, globes, relief maps,
professional journals, books, aerial photographs), and by sheer size it constitutes the largest
cartographic collection in Hungary.
- a 50,000-piece collection rightfully belonging to Hungary was transferred from the War Archives
(Kriegsarchiv) of Vienna to the Hungarian Royal Archives of War History (later: War Archives) after
the first world war;
- a 60,000-piece set of objects of the Royal Hungarian Cartographic Institute (later: Defence
Mapping Institute) was founded following the first world war.
Subdivision of the Cartographic Collection
The majority of maps are grouped according to the following geographical-regional divisions:
Within the territorial divisions there are the following thematic classes:
- maps of the heavens, of the world/earth/;
- maps of the continents: of Europe (and within that its countries, country groups), Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia).
Those below constitute distinct classes:
- general political, administrative maps,
- physical (orographic-hydrographic, geologic etc.) maps,
- special thematic (road, postal, rail, military campaign, ethnographic, border etc.) maps.
One of the most important parts of the sphere of collection of the Map Room is made up of the
military series based on detailed field surveys, showing both Hungarian and foreign territories.
In Hungary only the Map Room possesses complete series of the so-called first (1772-1784),
second (1806-1869) and third (1869-1884) military surveys in both basic and derived scales. The
original coloured manuscript sheets of the first and second military surveys are kept in the
Kriegsarchiv of Vienna. Until recently the Map Room has had black-and-white copies of the originals
in the same size. At present the original maps are being photocopied in colour through the work of
the Representative Office of the Hungarian Institute and Museum of War History. Usefulness,
aesthetic value of these copied maps are all but identical with those of the original ones. Continued
work on this project will enable Hungarian scholars to study these series of unprecedented value in
much better quality.
- geographical and historical atlases,
- maps of cities and their vicinities, travel guide books (within them the territorial division is again considered),
- maps of war history - they constitute one of the most important sets of materials of the Map Room, and one of the main focal activities concerning collection.
Maps showing battles, campaigns, military events are further grouped according to chronological sequence, following the classification of major historical epochs.
- country descriptions; military and geographical descriptions of the countries, fortresses, rivers, river crossings of Europe, primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The collection consisting of the military series published by the Royal Hungarian Cartographic
Institute, the first independent military mapping body in Hungary, established after the first world
war, can also be considered as complete, both for basic survey and derived scales.
The Map Room's collecting interests also cover military series of different scales and publishing years
published after the second world war in a different mapping and projection (Gauss-Krüger) system.
Given that restrictions on use of these maps ("secret") were lifted in 1992, they are now easily
accessible to researchers.
The 80,000-piece collection of aerial photographs also has considerable value. A smaller part of them
was made before the second world war, while most of them are copies of air photos made for
mapping purposes during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
Basic registration arrangement of materials of the Map Room has been put into effect. Better
orientation among materials is assisted by a recording system, various study aid tools and index maps.
Computer processing of the collection has also started.
Lists of geographical names of most sheets have also been processed, alphabetically arranged and printed
(close to 30,000 items). Further plans call for the computerization of the complete recording system.
The collection grows by some 4-5 thousand new items each year, a smaller part of them being old
maps (purchase of bequests), new books and other publications, while most of them are deposit
copies of the military series.
The Map Room is a public collection open to the research public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on workdays.
The number of research people keeps growing (500 in 1994).
Black-and-white photo and xerox copies of maps are available on order.
Publications (limited circulation) of the Map Room in recent years include:
- Topographic map series of Hungary 1869-1950, 102 pp., with 25 index maps,
- Town maps, guide books of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Hungary - a new catalogue,
- Catalogue books of maps of military operations of the first world war,
- Map series of the second world war:
- The Balkan States
- The Soviet Union (text and index maps)
- Catalogue of maps of the fortress system of Komárom,
- New catalogue of the administrative maps of the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy,
- Index maps of the military series after the second world war with years of surveying and publication,
- Catalogue of the archivated "Country Descriptions".
Dr. Annamária JANKÓ,
Director of the Map Room Budapest
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