Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Fire Insurance

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are highly detailed city plans providing researchers with a wealth of information about urban change in American cities. These maps were originally produced between 1867 and 1970 for the purpose of assessing risk and cost of insurance. The highly detailed plans were drawn at a scale of 50 feet/inch (1:600), printed in color, and record detailed information about streets, businesses, residences, building materials, and utilities.

ProQuest has taken the Chadwyck-Healey Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps microfilm collection, some 660,000 maps, and enhanced and digitized the maps. Since the maps have been digitized from the microfilm version, the ProQuest product is in black & white rather than in color as were the original paper maps. The ProQuest interface to Sanborn Maps provides the ability to easily manipulate the maps, magnify and zoom in on specific sections, and compare maps from different years.

Beginning in 2014, Proquest made available Sanborn Maps for North Carolina in a Geo Edition. The maps are in GeoTIFF format, so you can use them in GIS software. Contact Data Services for more information.

Portion of NCSU campus, 1914
Portion of NCSU Campus, 1914


Public Access to maps covering North Carolina is available to researchers within NC through NC LIVE using your public or school library account. Outside of NC, contact your public or school library and inquire about access to Proquest Sanborn Maps. The direct link through NC LIVE is:

NCSU Access to maps for the entire United States is available to NCSU affiliates (faculty, staff, and students). If you're off campus, you'll be asked for your UNITY login and password. If on campus, you'll go straight through.
Sanborn Maps entire US coverage

NCSU Libraries additionally acquired from ProQuest the original TIFF files of the North Carolina maps. The collection includes 11,173 large-scale maps of 158 North Carolina towns and cities. Click here for a list of NC maps available and their coverage dates (PDF, 39KB). The original TIFF images of the maps are saved on the Geodata Server in the /sanborn/nc folder (NCSU only access).


The Library of Congress has a collection of Sanborn Maps that are being added to their Digital map collections site. These maps are in color, providing rich details. Their collection begins with the oldest maps and will expand to more recent maps over time.


For a list of other historic map collections available through NCSU Libraries and regional sources, see the Historical Data and Maps page.