Skip to main content

George T. Abell Map Collection

Identifier: MS 165

Scope and Contents

This cartographic collection was the gift of the estate of the late Midland oilman, George T. Abell. Mr Abell was interested travel, geography, the geology of the petroleum industry, and the history of the Southwest and the maps reflect these as well as other subjects. The collection contains over a hundred maps which range in date from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Notably, the collection also contains a 1573 copy of Abraham Ortelius's Theatrvm orbis terrarvm, considered by some as the first modern atlas of the world. The collection includes maps of the world, the British Isles, Pacific Ocean, North and South America, The Western Hemisphere, and the United States.


  • Creation: 1550-1840


Conditions Governing Use

Collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

George Thomas Abell was born in Wakeeney, Kansas in 1900. He graduated from Colorado A & M (now Colorado State University) with degrees in civil and mechanical engineering. After graduation, Abell went to work for Midwest Exploration Company, a Denver based organization. When the company failed to find oil in the Rockies, they expanded their search to West Texas in 1923. In the fall of 1923, the company sent Abell and D.E. Lounsberry to map structures along the Cimarron River in Oklahoma. Following this assignment, the two men returned to Texas, mapping in Garza and Mitchell counties. Midwest Exploration Company, now convinced that West Texas held potential, authorized Lounsberry and Abell to open a district office in Abilene which later moved to San Angelo. From this office Abell, along with Tom Allen mapped large areas around Big Lake and Upton County. Abell moved to Midland in 1927 where he entered the petroleum business as an independent oil operator. During the 1930’s Abell participated in the discoveries and development of the Abell, Gomez, Pecos Valley, South Ward, Shipley and other Permian Basin fields, earning him the reputation of a successful wildcatter and producer. In 1939, Abell married Gladys Hanger of Fort Worth, the daughter of a pioneer Tarrant County family. During his professional career, Abell was active in the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Texas Independent producers and Royalty Owners Association, Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association and the Permian Basin Petroleum Association. He was also a charter member of the Permian Basin Petroleum Pioneers Association. In addition to his professional endeavors, Abell was also active in many civic, community, and cultural activities. He was a member of the Board of Education of the Midland Independent School Board. He chaired the first capital funds drive for Midland Memorial Hospital. Abell devoted much of his time to the Boy Scouts of America serving in various capacities in the Buffalo Trail Council. He led the capital fund campaign which secured the 6,000 acre camp in the Davis Mountains. While serving as a director of the Midland Chamber of Commerce, Abell originated the idea of a museum dedicated to the cultural history of the area and the petroleum industry. He spent much of his time and effort collecting antique oil field equipment for the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. He also commissioned many of the Museum’s oil paintings depicting the history of the area. Abell served as the Museum’s first president of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.

Source: The Petroleum Museum, Midland, Texas []


115 Sheets

Language of Materials



Maps are arranged by MC number. "MC" numbers are those given to the collection before it came to the TCU Library from the Abell estate. They follow no recognizable pattern except, probably, the order of purchase.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of George T. Abell in 1984.

Guide to the George T. Abell Map Collection
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library Repository

TCU Box 298400
2800 S. University Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76129-0001
Fort Worth Texas 76129
(817) 257-4566
(817) 257-7282 (Fax)