These maps known as Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are of small, medium and large sized towns and cities date back to the 19th century and well into the 20th century. They can be very important in locating where a family business, shop and neighborhood would have been at a specific time frame. The Sanborn Company (started by Daniel A. Sanborn), an American publisher of historical and current maps of U.S. cities and towns, were initially created to estimate fire insurance liabilities. The map would show any streams or waterways and the closest of buildings. Churches, streets, shops, theatres, schools, jails are marked on the maps. They had maps completed for approximately 12,000 U.S. towns and cities from 1867 to 2007.
The Library of Congress has maps for 28 states and more to be placed online in the future. A you search on the site, select a state and call the listing up. If there is an asterisk * the maps are available online. No asterisk, none by the Library of Congress online yet. However, you can see which places and dates there are Sanborn Map for. There are 6000 sheets are online in the following 28 states: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, OH, PA, TX, VA, VT and WY.
The Library of Congress also has Victoria, British Columbia for 1885 and four locations in Mexico for different dates 1905 to 1924.
Check state archives and university libraries in states and see if they have some of the Sanborn maps. For example there is: Kentucky Digital Library has maps online for 1884-1922; Princeton University has the New Jersey Sanborn maps for 1884-1950; University of Texas Library has 1877 to 1922 Texas Sanborn maps; University of Colorado Library has 1883 to 1922 and Digital Library of Georgia has 1884 to 1922.
You can order copies from the Sanborn Company for those not available online yet.
Photo: Lemar, Missouri Sanborn Map (a portion) for August 1891.< Return To Blog