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Maps and Atlases

This is a guide to finding maps and atlases in print and online.

What are the Sanborn Maps?

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collection consists of a uniform series of some fifty thousand large-scale maps dating from 1867 to 1950 (with regularly updated corrections which appear as various shades of gray) These maps depict the commercial, industrial and residential sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico at the individual property level.

Because they were designed to assist fire insurance agents in evaluating the degree of hazard associated with a building, the maps show windows, doors, walls, sprinkler systems, roofs, etc., as well as streets, boundaries, building use, water mains, hydrants, and fire alarm boxes--any information useful in setting insurance rates.

These maps are a unique source of information about buildings in American cities, a record of the urban history of the United States.

In 1981, the Library of Congress published Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress: Plans of North American Cities and Towns produced by the Sanborn Map Company (Microtext Rm. HG 9771.L53 1981), which describes and indexes the entire collection of some 700,000 maps produced by the Sanborn Map Company.

For more information about the Sanborn Maps, libraries around the country that maintain collections of these maps, and information on obtaining copyright permission to use the maps, see the UC Berkeley Library web page, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.

Vassar owns the sets of maps for:

District of Columbia
New York
72 reels
19 reels
4 reels
17 reels
48 reels
25 reels
106 reels
Microfilm 834
Microfilm 798
Microfilm 797
Microfilm 856
Microfilm 816
Microfilm 796
Microfilm 799

Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County maps are on Reel 75, #6192.