Skip to main content

Maps Guide

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Overview

Beginning in 1867, the Sanborn Map Company published maps of over 12,000 cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  Drawn at a scale of 1 inch = 50 feet, the maps used color and keyed symbols to convey essential information for fire insurance underwriters. Today they are an essential source for researchers investigating the history of the built environment.

Introduction to Sanborn maps (Library of Congress)

Legend (key) to Sanborn maps in color (U.C. Berkeley)

Legend (key) to Sanborn maps in black & white (ProQuest)

Sanborn Map Guide, 1942, published by the Sanborn Map Company

History of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (U.C. Berkeley)

 

Rhode Island and Massachusetts Sanborn maps

RWU subscribes to a database of Sanborn maps for the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts (use link immediately above).  Maps for cities and towns in other states, as well as in Canada and Mexico, may be available online using the list of links found below.

Detail of Sanborn fire insurance map of Honolulu, Hawaii - 1914

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (online)

Some organizations holding print copies of Sanborn maps have digitized them and made them available online.  Online availability ranges widely however, some locations have many maps available, others have few if any.  Almost all of the maps available will date from 1922 and earlier because they are in the public domain (no longer under copyright).  Note:  An "x" in the list below indicates an index of maps for this location is available from the Library of Congress but only a limited number of maps, if any, may be available online.