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Collections » Map Collection » Aerial Photo Collection

Aerial Photo Collection

The Map Collection contains an extensive aerial photograph collection of Massachusetts and the Connecticut River Valley which was transferred from the Department of Natural Resource Conservation, formerly the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management at UMass Amherst.  The estimated 24,000 items in this collection include infrared transparencies and prints, and black and white prints from the 1950s through 1999 covering the entire Commonwealth and some areas in adjoining New England states.  Also included are sets of land use and vegetation cover maps of Massachusetts and the Connecticut River Valley. 

In the 1950s, Forestry Professor Emeritus William P. MacConnell (Class of 1943), and his photogrammetry students began using aerial photography to map forests, agricultural fields, wetlands, and other land cover in Massachusetts. Their work was eventually expanded to include the mapping of all land use for Massachusetts, making this state the first in the nation to be completely mapped in this fashion, and laying the foundation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wetlands Inventory

Photogrammetry is the use of photography to make measurements.  MacConnell and his students used strips of overlapping aerial photographs taken in flight paths that covered the entire state.  Every point in the state shows up on not only two photographs in each flight path, but since the adjoining flight paths also overlap, many points show up on four photographs.  By viewing these photographs through a stereoscope, one eye sees one photograph and the other eye sees another photograph.  Since each of the photographs was taken from a different point in the sky, the view through the stereoscope is a 3 dimensional image.  Trees, church steeples, hills, all rise up from the landscape.

Along with the aerial photos and related maps, the Map Collection also holds some original field notes, equipment and other project materials from Professor MacConnell and his students, much of which may be viewed in a display case within the Collection.

A light table, stereoscope, and black and white copy machine are available for patron use within the Map Collection.

Aerial Photography Collection holdings include:

1951   Massachusetts   black and white prints   1:20,000
1971   Massachusetts   black and white prints   1:20,000
1985   Massachusetts and Rhode Island   infrared transparencies   1:25,000
1990   Boston, Cape Cod, Buzzard's Bay   infrared transparencies 1:12,000
1991-1992   Massachusetts infrared transparencies   1:40,000
                      Merrimack River Valley, North Shore, MDC-1   infrared transparencies  1:12,000
1993   Massachusetts, Cape Cod, MDC-2,  Nantucket, Dukes and Plymouth Counties, Naushon,
            West Metro,    infrared transparencies   1:12,000
1999   Massachusetts   infrared transparencies and prints 1:25,000
2000-2001 Berkshires infrared transparencies 1:12,000

Also in the Collection are oversize aerial photos black and white prints of the Boston, Cape Cod, and Connecticut River Valley areas dating from the 1990's and 1970's.






Last Edited: 16 April 2013