Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sanborn Maps Now Available at the Library of Congress

This is one of the most exciting announcements from the Library of Congress (LOC) maps collection in several years! The LOC has digitized more than 25,000 pages of Sanborn maps.  I use these maps regularly for my preservation and historical research.  According to the LOC
The Sanborn map collection consists of a uniform series of large-scale maps, dating from 1867 to the present and depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The maps were designed to assist fire insurance agents in determining the degree of hazard associated with a particular property and therefore show the size, shape, and construction of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories as well as fire walls, locations of windows and doors, sprinkler systems, and types of roofs. The maps also indicate widths and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers.
The maps are easy to use, once you understand the key.  It is explained here.  

If you know where your ancestor lived you might just find his house on a Sanborn map.  There are limitations - not every city was mapped and like census takers some maps provide more detail than others.  Currently over 3,000 cities across the US are online with more being added monthly through 2020. Missouri is in the first release so go check! 


Springfield, MO map, April 1884, p 1,
Library of Congress, Sanborn Map Collection


Other areas in the first release include: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, 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 Canada, Mexico, Cuba sugar warehouses, and U.S. whiskey warehouses.

But as Missourians we are doubly blessed because the University of Missouri Library has an extensive Sanborn Map collection.  The University of Missouri--Columbia MU Libraries have documented 390 Missouri towns totaling 6,798 of the maps from 1880 to 1922. 

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