From 1867 to 1977, the Sanborn® Map Company of Pelham, New York, produced large-scale (usually 50 feet to the inch) color maps of over 13,000 towns and cities across the United States in order to assist fire insurance companies in setting rates and terms. The color-coded Sanborn maps depict the location, dimension, height, and use of buildings, as well as the materials employed in their construction, and other relevant features. The Library of Congress web site refers to these color-coded maps as "probably the single most important record of urban growth and development in the United States during the past one hundred years."
The following online collections offer free access to digitized copies of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for select states, cities, and towns. Most date from the 1880s through 1921 or 1922, as more recent maps are still protected by copyright. Maps from 1923 through the 1960s are also available for many localities, but due to copyright restrictions you need to visit or contact the Library of Congress or other repositories holding Sanborn Maps for access.
This searchable database provides information on the Sanborn fire insurance maps housed in the collections of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division in Washington, DC, as well as links to online images that have been scanned from the collection. Only a portion of the collection is digitized, but over 6000 sheets are online in the following 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, WY, as well as Canada, Mexico, Cuba sugar warehouses, and U.S. whiskey warehouses.
Building Colorado Story by Story: The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Collection
, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a digital collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps of cities across Colorado. The free, online collection contains 346 maps of 79 major cities in 52 counties covering the years 1883–1922.
This collection of over 3,000 public domain map sheets was digitized from the printed Sanborn fire insurance maps held in the collections of the Smathers Libraries' Map & Imagery Library at the University of Florida in Gainsville.
Search or browse this digital collection of 4,445 maps by the Sanborn Map Company depicting commercial, industrial, and residential areas for 133 Georgia municipalities. This Georgia Towns & Cities Sanborn Maps database is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia.
Digital color versions of the Indiana Sanborn fire insurance maps have been made freely available online through the Indiana Spatial Data Portal (ISDP) as a joint project between Indiana University and the Historical Information Gatherers, Inc. All maps between 1883 and 1923 are public domain documents and are freely available. Digital copies of maps created after 1923 have copyright restrictions, but can be requested for academic purposes. This collection include 10,020 public domain maps and 1,497 copyright restricted maps representing 305 different Indiana locations.
The Kentucky Sanborn® Maps Collection provides free online access to 4,500+ map sheets representing over 100 Kentucky cities and towns between 1886 and 1912. Select the "Maps" link to access this free database from the Kentucky Digital Library.
This online collection from Special Collections and Rare Books at the University of Missouri Library, includes 1,283 Sanborn fire insurance maps from 390 Missouri cities dating between 1883 and 1951. All of the Sanborn maps published before 1923 are available online.
Explore digitized Sanborn fire insurance maps of twenty-nine early towns of Nevada, some of which no longer exist. Over 500 full-color, digitized maps date from 1879 through 1923.
Penn State’s University Libraries has cataloged and digitized their entire collection of Sanborn maps, representing 585 cities and communities across the Commonwealth. All out-of-copyright maps published before 1923 are currently available online to the public. As copyright restrictions are lifted for post-1922 maps, those scanned images will also be added to the Library’s Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps website.
The North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill holds the most comprehensive collection of Sanborn® maps in North Carolina, dating from the 1880s to the 1950s and covering more than 150 cities and towns across the state. This online collection features digitized versions of all of the North Carolina Collection's Sanborn® maps produced through 1922.