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Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: Home

Sanborn Maps Online for Ohio

Kent State University users should use Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps link.

Ohio residents should use the Sanborn Maps for Public Library Users.

About the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Kent State University Map Library is the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map holding institution for Ohio.  It is the largest and most complete set of Ohio maps outside the Library of Congress.  In addition, we hold the set of Sanborn Maps of Ohio microfilm (in black and white).

Please contact the Library to schedule an appointment to view the paper Sanborn maps.

The Sanborn Maps are large scale street plans produced by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company from 1867 to 1970.

Sanborn Maps show the outline of each building including the location of windows and doors together with street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. The maps display building materials, number of floors, and building purpose (if available). Businesses, churches, and government structures are often identified as well as the business type (cotton mill, automobile repair, etc.). An individual home owner/ occupier is not identified.

These maps are used by a wide range of researchers including local historians to locate and identify buildings and neighborhoods, urban historians to study the growth of towns and cities, and environmentalists concerned about impact of new developments.

The Library of Congress held three paper copies of the Sanborn maps for each state. In the early 1950’s they distributed one set for each state to a state land grant university. 

Sanborn Maps Online

The Sanborn Maps Online are owned by ProQuest/UMI and were created from the Library of Congress black and white microfilm.  The original maps were color coded to indicate features of the buildings.

Additional digitalized copies of other states may be available at other state or university libraries (see Sanborn Maps by State).  Most digitized collections will only include the years 1867- 1923, as these are in the public domain.  Other maps are under copyrighted by the copyright holder, The Sanborn Library, LLC. (now Environmental Data Resources EDR) and will likely only be found in paper at the holding institution.  Many local history organizations or societies may hold paper copies of the maps (e.g. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Public Library).

The online Digital Sanborn Maps are scans of the microfilm and are in black and white. The original paper maps where colored and contain building structure information based on color.

UMI/Proquest "About the Digital Sanborn Maps"