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Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Location: Microfilm G 1435 G254 1983


“The Sanborn map collection consists of a uniform series of large-scale maps, dating from 1867 to 1970 and depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada and Mexico.” Pickler Memorial Library has the maps for Missouri cities and towns. “The maps were designed to assist fire insurance agents in determining the degree of hazard associated with a particular property and therefore show the size, shape, and construction of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories as well as fire walls, locations of windows, doors, sprinkler systems and types of roofs.  The maps also indicate widths and names of streets, property boundaries, building use and house and block numbers.  They show the locations of water mains, giving their dimensions and of fire alarm boxes and hydrants.” (Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress  Microfilm G 1435 G475 S254 1983 Checklist).

The microfilm collection is in black and white.  This is a problem since the original Sanborn maps are color coded for the types of building materials used in structures.

How to search the collection

The majority of the collection, the maps from 1867-1950, are on 25 reels of microfilm.  There is one additional reel of microfilm which includes maps for Joplin, St. Joseph, and Springfield between 1950-1970. It has the following call number – Microfilm G 1435 G475 S255 1990. There is a street index at the beginning of each city on the 1950-1970 reel.

The 1867-1950 collection has a guide called Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress (Microfilm G 1435 G475 S254 1983 Checklist).  The guide has an index arranged by state and county.  It also has an alphabetical index to the towns and cities in the collection.  The alphabetical index to the towns and cities has a number by each city name. That is the entry number for the city on the microfilm.  It is not a page number. Below is an example from the guide.

 4725Kirksville, Adair Co.

Mar 1932-Feb.1942                12                       509

“4725” is the entry number on the microfilm. “Kirksville” is the town. “Adair Co.” is the county.  “Mar 1932-Feb. 1942” is the date on the maps.  “12” is the number of sheets of maps.   “509” is a number from the Bureau of the Census which gave a lot of these maps to the Library of Congress.  This Bureau of the Census number is not used in finding a map.


Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress  Microfilm G 1435 G475 S254 1983 Checklist.

For more information about this subject in our Library Catalog, check out these
Subject Categories:

Insurance, Fire -- Missouri -- Maps and surveys.

Cities and towns -- Missouri -- Maps.

Missouri -- Maps.

Time Period: 19th Century   20th Century  

Subject keywords: Missouri - History