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Michelin map collection

Identifier: Maps-Michelin

Scope and Content of the Collection

This is a growing collection of automobile road maps issued since the early 20th century by the French tire manufacturing firm of Pneu Michelin (commonly shortened to Michelin). As of 2016 it includes 4,990 folded maps (published 1905-ongoing), accompanied by printed ephemera, secondary sources, souvenirs, and collectibles (approximately 350 items, 1911-2016).

Includes extensive holdings of Michelin's national road map series for France and other West European countries, usually in multiple editions of numbered sheets, issued in multiple but differently numbered national series, and published at various dates since approximately 1910. Geographic coverage is most complete for Benelux, British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.

The collection is far less complete for maps of areas outside Western Europe, partly because Michelin was less prolific in these areas, and partly because the collector Robert L. McDonald was most interested in collecting maps of France. With some exceptions, the bulk of world maps and maps of Eastern Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia in this collection were published after 1970.

4,990 folded road maps are sorted in 7 series established for the collection, assigned individual item numbers in one sequence spanning Michelin 1-Michelin 4990, and filed in boxes 1-66 (note that Michelin Map Collection item numbers differ from the printed sheet numbers appearing on the front panels of maps). Included are approximately 150 additions interfiled within McDonald's original collection in 2016.

Maps in Series 1-6 are listed in single-line descriptions that include some or all of the following information: Michelin Map Collection item numbers, cover or panel title keywords, printed Michelin sheet number, edition statement or plate code, cover design code, scale, notes, and publication date. Adapted from McDonald's extensive notes, map titles are recorded incompletely and inconsistently with varying punctuation. Most titles are briefly recorded using selected French or English cover or panel title keywords (usually place names, sometimes out of printed order). Sheets with two or more multilingual titles are usually recorded in only one language. Most item descriptions include cover or title panel design codes (examples include "Fr12", "Fr13", "X05", and "X06"). These codes were assigned by McDonald from an unexplained scheme he devised, or from an unknown source, and have been retained here without further explanation. Publication date ranges for series and subseries are derived from, and limited to, maps in the collection in 2016. In other words, complete and definitive date ranges of many series published by Michelin vary from those in this incomplete collection.

The earliest separately published maps in this collection, together with their filing locations, are listed below:

  • Circuit d’Auvergne eliminatoires françaises et Coupe Gordon-Bennett (1905). Filed in Series 1, France, subseries 7, city and city region maps of France, Box 30, Item 2615.
  • Carte Michelin: environs de Clermont-Ferrand au 200,000me (approximately 1910). Filed in Series 1, France, subseries 7, city and city region maps of France, Box 30, Item 2617.
  • Carte Michelin: France à 1:1,000,000e, partie nord-est (published between 1908-1918?). Filed in Series 1, France, subseries 8, national maps of France, Box 35, Item 3002.
  • Une des cartes Michelin: la France a l'echelle de 1:2,400,000e (published 192-?). Filed as the index map at the start of Series 1, France, subseries 1, regional maps of France, approximately 1910-approximately 1925, Box 1, Item 1.
  • Michelin touring map of the United States: Providence (approximately 1921). Filed in Series 4: America, Australia, and Thailand, Box 65, Item 4911.

McDonald's collection included 215 Michelin automobile travel guidebooks published between 1900-2010 (including Red guides, Green guides, and 25 World War I battlefield guidebooks published between 1917-1921), 117 road atlases, 32 typewritten "Itinéraires Michelin" compiled to order by Michelin's tourist bureau (approximately 1925-1931), and 17 books and miscellaneous publications. These have been separated from the collection for individual cataloging, all to be traced in the online catalog with McDonald's name (excepting duplicate copies of items previously held by the library). A partial checklist of separated items is filed in Series 7, Michelin Miscellany. Series 7 also includes 5 printed checklists compiled by McDonald in 2013 (159 pages total), completed before the collection was extensively rearranged in 2016.


  • Creation: 1905-ongoing



Materials are in French and English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Michelin map collection is open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Michelin map collection is the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

History of Michelin Maps

French manufacturer of tires and publisher of road maps and automobile travel guidebooks.

Brothers André and Edouard Michelin established Michelin et Cie in 1889 after buying the rubber manufacturing plant founded in 1830 by their grandfather Aristide Barbie. Later named Pneu Michelin, the company became part of a multinational conglomerate formally known as Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin, with automobile tire manufacturing plants in several countries. Commonly called Michelin, the company developed innovative tires, including the removable pneumatic tire in 1895 and the radial tire in 1946. In its efforts to promote tire sales, Michelin became well known for the trademarked mascot Bibendum, colloquially known as the Michelin Man (introduced 1894); their highly regarded Red guide and Green guide series of automobile travel guidebooks (beginning 1900); and folded automobile road maps (beginning 1905). The first guidebooks and maps were limited to France, but geographic coverage expanded over time to cover most of Europe, and to a lesser extent, Africa, the Americas, and Asia.

Dozens of small city maps appeared in the 1902 Red guide of France, followed between 1905-1918 by a few larger and separately published maps, including maps of the Auvergne region around company headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand. Beginning in 1909 André Michelin, a trained engineer previously employed by the cartography department of the Ministère de l'interieur, oversaw compilation of a 48-sheet map of France at the scale of 1:200,000, with innovative features important for safe travel in early automobiles, including the graphic display of road conditions and widths, and distances between points. Early Michelin map series are also notable for their original accordion-style folding, which allowed motorists to follow a mapped route panel by panel, without needing to completely unfold the sheet. The marketing and popular success of the 1:200,000 series of French road maps initiated ongoing publication of many national road map series at varying scales to present day. Michelin also developed digital travel and mapping products, ranging from online Red guide itineraries delivered to dumb terminals (in 1998), to the combined launch of the ViaMichelin and Michelin Travel Partner websites (in 2011).


30 Linear Feet (70 boxes)


Road maps issued by the French tire manufacturer Pneu Michelin, better known as Michelin (4,990 maps, published 1905-ongoing). Geographic coverage most complete for Benelux, British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland; less complete for Eastern Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Accompanied by a small collection of printed ephemera, secondary sources, souvenirs, and collectibles (approximately 350 items, 1911-2016).


Maps are organized in the following series:

Series 1: France, 1905-2013
Boxes 1-40
Series 2: Europe, 1920-2013
Boxes 41-62
Series 3: Africa, 1929-2007
Boxes 63-64
Series 4: America, Australia, and Thailand, approximately 1921-2013
Box 65
Series 5: World Maps, 1991-2009
Box 65
Series 6: City Maps (outside France), 1981-2013
Box 66
Series 7: Michelin Miscellany, 1911-2016
Boxes 67-70

Collection Stack Location

4a 20 7-8


Purchase, 2014, Robert L. McDonald, with subsequent additions.

Processed by

Patrick Morris, 2016.

Genre / Form



Inventory of the Michelin map collection, 1905-ongoing
Patrick Morris
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States