Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Free Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly



I have a lot of links for you today, with just a little background, and a little diatribe.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps were drawn up for many cities and towns in the late 1800's and early to mid-1900's.  They are wonderful sources of insight and detail on how and where your ancestors lived and worked.

The maps list almost all buildings, streets, places of work, parks, schools, many residences, and town/city layouts.  Maps from different years show changing street names, boundaries, and land use.  You even get to find out if a factory had sprinkler systems, elevators, and was made of brick, wood, or stone...the maps are that detailed.

A fair number of Sanborn maps have been digitized, and are available in free online collections.  That's the good.  The collections are sometimes infuriatingly difficult to browse, with very large maps being made available a small window at a time, with limited panning and zoom tools; that's the bad.  The maps are never ugly, however...quite the opposite (I just wanted to throw ugly in the title).  So without further ado, here are some links to online, free collections of Sanborn insurance maps (and maps from a few other sources, as well).


There are many more such maps in hardcopy and microfilm collections; check with your community library or town/county historical society for local resources.

Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

13 comments :

Virtual Library said...

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is digitizing it's Sanborn Map collection:


http://virtuallibrary.cincinnatilibrary.org/VirtualLibrary/vl_Maps.aspx

David said...

Virtual Library...thanks! Added 'em to the list.

Miriam said...

Great list...thanks!

There are some Illinois Sanborn maps here, and Montana ones here.

Miriam said...

Hawaii has the Dakin Fire Insurance Maps here.

Miriam said...

Kentucky also has this.

David said...

Miriam...you are GOOD! Thanks a lot, and happy new year.

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robinpage said...

Kansas maps are available at the University of Kansas.

David said...

Thanks, Robin...link has been added.

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