Featured Collection: Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
What’s in this collection?
Over 2,000 scanned historical maps dating from the late 19th to mid-20th century and covering much of Pennsylvania. Sanborn fire insurance maps contain a wealth of information about individual properties and were designed to assist insurance agents in determining fire hazard potential.
What BTAA Library submitted the collection?
Pennsylvania State University
- I chose to explore and highlight this collection because I am originally from a little town in Pennsylvania called Windber, which was founded in 1897. There are Sanborn maps of Windber available in the collection from as early as 1899, likely some of the first comprehensive maps of this small but growing town.
- Another town near where I grew up, Johnstown, is well-known for a devastating flood occurring in May of 1889. There are maps of Johnstown in this collection from 1886, 1891, and later, allowing us a chance to see how the city’s layout and composition shifted and rebounded after the flood.
A Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing downtown Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1891.
Where can I find out more?
- Learn more and browse Penn State’s full collection here: https://libraries.psu.edu/about/collections/sanborn-fire-insurance-maps
- Another great source of information and scanned copies for Sanborn Maps covering much of the U.S. is the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps.
Have questions about this collection, the BTAA geoportal, or maps and geospatial data in general? Please don’t hesitate to contact our project team!
Joshua Sadvari is the Geospatial Information Librarian at The Ohio State University Libraries.