Few men in the history of science contributed as much, but are as little known, as William Smith. He is credited with single-handedly mapping the geology of England and Wales over the course of 25 years, but the magnitude of his accomplishment has so often been underestimated. Known in his lifetime as a surveyor, engineer, mineralogist and geologist, above all William Smith was a hardworking and determined man who dedicated his life to understanding the world beneath us all. This knowledge, compiled through his own labour and developed over decades, was made physical in ‘the map that changed the world’, published nearly 200 years ago.
This website is the result of a year-long project that saw the archive of William Smith catalogued and digitised. It is our hope that by creating access to his collection the importance of his contributions to the history of science and to modern geological methods will be better understood. We also hope that the beauty and importance of his work can be enjoyed by a wider audience.