Library of Congress – Hometown Maps

Using vintage maps of an ancestor’s hometown is a gold mine of information. If you know the street a family lived on or the location of their shop or business that is wonderful. Many people do not know the street a house was on. Yet using the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, made digital and available at the online Library of Congress site, searching has become easier.

In searching, if you locate a vintage map, check family notes, documents, photos, anything that might relate to where a family lived in town. If references in letters were made that the family lived one block away from the Methodist Church, you have it. Structures such as businesses, churches, bridges, shops, courthouses, etc are marked on the Sanborn Maps. For homes, the letter “D” is used to denote a dwelling.

The Library of Congress has some 25,000 sheets from over 3,000 city sets online for the following states: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, OH, OK, PA, SD, TX, VA, VT, WY and plus outside of the United States are maps for Canada, Mexico, Cuba sugar warehouses, and U.S. whiskey warehouses. True, not all states are available yet.

The years for the town maps will vary also. The states with the most maps are Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and New York. Most years range from 1800 to 1899.

Look for an index with the beginning page of a map, keeping in mind even for small towns the map could run 3 to 6 pages. By seeing the layout of a town, all the homes, business, shops, you get a real feel for the ancestor’s hometown. You can save a copy of each page of a map.

Photos: Sanborn Maps, Hanover, York Co., PA in 1896; and Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan in June 1893.

Related Blogs:

Using Land Maps

Vintage Maps

Another Approach

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.