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. Digital images are available for maps between 1884 to 1923. If found to be out of copyright, later editions may also be available.
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.
Sanborn maps for other states – The Library of Congress distributed duplicate copies of Sanborn maps in their collection throughout the country. Images of Sanborn Maps available online from the Library of Congress can be downloaded (including some Florida cities).
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 (EDR).
- 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.
- 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.
- Oswald, D. L. (1997). Fire insurance maps: their history and applications. College Station, TX: Lacewing Press.
- Rees, G. W. & Hoeber M. (1973). A catalogue of Sanborn atlases at California State University, Northridge. Santa Cruz, CA: Western Association of Map Libraries.
- Sanborn Map Company. (1905,1923). Manual for the exclusive use and guidance or employees of the Sanborn Map Company. New York: Sanborn Map Co.
- Sanborn Map Company. (1949). Description and utilization of the Sanborn map. New York: Sanborn Map Co.