Here we provide geographic distribution ranges for 205 species of terrestrial non-volant mammals in the 1970s. We selected terrestrial non-volant mammals because they are among the most studied groups, have greater availability of historical distribution data for the 1970s decade, and also show the largest range contractions compared to other taxonomic groups. Species belong to 52 families and 16 orders. Range maps were extracted from scientific literature including published papers, books, and action plans. For Australian species, due to the absence of published maps, we collated occurrence data from individual data sets (maintained by museums and government agencies) and converted these into polygonal range maps. Taxonomic and geographic biases towards more studied (charismatic) species are inevitably present. Among the most abundant orders, the highest percentage representation is for Carnivora (55 species, corresponding to 21% of species in the order), Cetartiodactyla (24 species, 10% of the order), and Perissodactyla (six species, 38% of the order). In contrast, the percentage representation is low for Rodentia (66 species, 3% of species in the order), Primates (19 species, 4%), and Eulipotyphla (6 species, 1%). The proportional representation of less speciose orders is highly variable. The data set offers the opportunity to measure the recent (1970–2019) change in the distribution of terrestrial mammal species, and test ecological and biogeographical hypotheses about such change. It also allows us to identify areas where changes in species distribution were largest. No copyright or proprietary restrictions are associated with the use of this data set other than citation of this Data Paper.