October 15, 2009 (REVISED October 19, 2009) Checklist for Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Now Online

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Ed Redmond (202) 707-8548

The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress announces the new Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist, which can be accessed directly at www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/sanborn/. This collection of maps, produced for business purposes, has proven to be a boon to historians.

The online checklist describes the Library’s nearly 700,000-sheet collection of maps published by the Sanborn Map Co. from 1867 to the 1960s, the single largest and most comprehensive collection of Sanborn maps. The checklist is an online version of the popular but out-of-print publication “Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress: Plans of North American Cities and Towns Produced by the Sanborn Map Company” (1981).

The fire insurance maps show detailed, accurate and large-scale building “footprints” of individual structures and were often the earliest large-scale urban mapping available for small cities. 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.

These maps were acquired by the Library as a result of copyright deposits, government agency transfers and gifts.

The online checklist is a searchable database, which lists all editions and number of sheets for each city/town/village represented in the collection. In addition, the checklist will be continually updated to reflect new acquisitions. The checklist also contains links to existing downloadable digital images from the collection.

The website includes essays on the history of large-scale mapping related to fire insurance efforts and examples of how large-scale maps can be used by historians, geographers and researchers in virtually any discipline.

The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.2 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The Library's map collections contain coverage for every country and subject, and include the works of the most famous mapmakers throughout history—Ptolemy, Waldseemüller, Mercator, Ortelius and Blaeu. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.


PR 09-210
ISSN 0731-3527