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Antique Maps at the Map & Imagery Library: Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Collection

Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Maps

The Map & Imagery Library holds the largest collection of Sanborn maps of Florida cities, outside of the Library of Congress. Over 130 Florida cities and towns are covered, with the earliest map depicting 1884 Cedar Key. List of library holdings.

Digital images are available for maps between 1884 to 1923. If found to be out of copyright, later editions may also be available.

Sanborn® Fire Insurance Company Maps of Florida Online

History and Use

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Company was conceived as the D. A. Sanborn National Insurance Diagram Bureau by its founder, D. A. Sanborn, in 1867. By acquiring the Perris & Brown firm in 1899, the Sanborn Company could date its origins back to 1852. Sanborn's Company was incorporated in 1876 under the name Sanborn Perris Map Company, Ltd.. The name was shortened to today's usage, the Sanborn Map Company, in 1902.

Sanborn Fire Insurance maps were designed to help fire insurance agents assess the degree of hazard associated with a particular property. To illustrate the detail needed for this use, Sanborn maps were drawn at a scale of 50 feet to an inch, on sheets 21 by 25 inches. Later publications were drawn at scales of 100 or 200 feet to an inch, due to economic constraints.

Sanborn maps show size, shape, and construction of the building. Additional details are: firewalls, locations of windows and doors, sprinkler systems, and roofing material. Areas adjacent to the buildings were also covered: width and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house block number. Water mains and the dimensions of such, fire alarm boxes, and hydrants are depicted as well.

Sanborn maps are also color-coded. For example, brick is pink, frame is yellow, adobe is olive, stone is blue, and iron is gray. Each map set begins with an index sheet showing which areas depicted by what sheet for the rest of the set.

Additional Resources

Sanborn maps for other states - The Library of Congress distributed duplicate copies of Sanborn maps in their collection throughout the country. A list of institutions to receive these maps is provided as it was published by the Library of Congress in 1981 with links added in 2000.  A list of Sanborn Maps available for download was created in 2011.

Maps after 1923 - After producing maps and atlases of more than 12,000 U.S. towns and cities, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company went out of business. Copyright for the majority of Sanborn maps produced after 1923 is now held by Environmental Data Resources Inc., (EDR). Copies of Sanborn maps for U.S. cities may be purchased from EDR, the Library of Congress, or UMI/ProQuest.


Geography and Map Division. (1981). Fire insurance maps in the Library of Congress : plans of North America cities and towns produced by the Sanborn Map Company : a checklist. Washington D.C.: Library of Congress.

     UF MAP and IMAGERY LIBRARY General Collection -- Z6026.I7U54 1981  

     HathiTrust Digital Library

Hoehn, R. P. (1976-1977). Union list of Sanborn fire insurance maps held by institutions in the United States and Canada. Santa Cruz, CA: Western Association of Map Libraries.

     UF MAP and IMAGERY LIBRARY General Collection -- Z6026.I7H63  

Oswald, D. L. (1997). Fire insurance maps : their history and applications. College Station, TX: Lacewing Press.

     UF MAP and IMAGERY LIBRARY General Collection -- HG9771.O85 1997  

Rees, G. W. & Hoeber M. (1973). A catalogue of Sanborn atlases at California State University, Northridge. Santa Cruz, CA: Western Association of Map Libraries.

     UF MAP and IMAGERY LIBRARY General Collection -- Z6028.R42

Sanborn Map Company. (1949). Description and utilization of the Sanborn map. New York: Sanborn Map Co.

     HaithiTrust Digital Library

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