By Merrill Stein
Sanborn Digital Maps, 1867-1970 (ProQuest), provide access to more than 660,000 Sanborn maps, produced over a century, charting the growth, layout and development of more than 12,000 American towns and cities. Originally produced in color, these black and white Sanborn maps are large-scale plans of a city or town, drawn at a scale of fifty feet to an inch. They were created to assist fire insurance companies as they assessed the risk associated with insuring a particular property. The maps list street blocks and building numbers including numbers in use at the time the map was made and previous numbers. A legend has also been added to assist with interpretation of the black and white maps.
Although Sanborn maps today have minimal interest for the fire insurance industry, municipal governments are Sanborn’s best customers today. Engineering and architectural concerns are also significant purchasers of corrected Sanborn maps. The maps can be useful for geography and urban planning, ancestry, history and policy studies.
For additional information and history about Sanborn maps, visit the ProQuest guide and the Library of Congress Introduction to the Sanborn Map Collection. Access the Sanborn Digital Maps, 1867-1970 (ProQuest) trial under Falvey Library’s Databases A to Z. Access the Sanborn Digital Maps, 1867-1970 (ProQuest) trial under Falvey Library’s Databases A to Z, until Nov. 4.
Merrill Stein is Political Science Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.