Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Sanborn map? How do I find Sanborn maps?

The Sanborn Company issued fire insurance in the late 19th century and well into the 20th century in the U.S. In order to determine a given building's relative risk of fire, the company made detailed maps of all the cities where they issued insurance in order to see a building's proximity to other buildings and, often, details about the kind of business or name of a family that occupied a given building or house at the time the map was made. These maps were updated over time and so provide an historical record of many urbanized areas' growth over time.

NCSU Libraries does not keep paper copies of Sanborn maps, but you may access digital copies for *all states* online through the Digital Sanborn maps 1867-1970 database.

Direct Link to the Database

The link About This Collection on the entry page, and the links above the dropdown menus for City and Date within the database provide more detail about the maps that were scanned for this resource and how to use them.

More information about the online Sanborn Maps

#0327 | 2013-06-26 JE

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