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Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Introduction to finding and using Sanborn fire insurance maps.

Which Database?

ProQuest Collection

  • Download PDFs of Sanborn maps.
  • View thumbnails of Sanborn maps before opening them.
  • Fewer steps in getting to Sanborn maps.
  • The GeoEdition may not yet have Sanborn maps of the area you are looking for (see ProQuest Sanborn Maps Geo Edition box for further details).
  • Black and white, whereas FIMO and Library of Congress are in color


  • Find Sanborn maps by clicking on a Google map location.
  • Download Sanborn maps as a jpeg or GeoTiff.
  • Smoother zooming and panning over maps within the web browser.
  • Ability to search for maps by county.

Sanborn Maps in Online Databases

The University of Michigan Library subscribes to  the Proquest Collection of Sanborn Maps and Proquest Sanborn Maps GeoEdition.  Both databases allow users to access digital copies of Sanborn maps, as well as allowing users to magnify selected maps to view them in detail.  Both databases function differently, and the following descriptions provide a step-by step tutorial for how to use each online database.

ProQuest has created a guide to using their digital collection of Sanborn Maps.

ProQuest Collection of Sanborn Maps

The ProQuest Collection of Sanborn Maps consists of "more than 660,000 large-scale maps of more than 12,000 American towns and cities" from the years 1867-1970.  This database contains Sanborn maps from all fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia.  The database's home page provides a brief history and description of the nature of Sanborn fire insurance maps, below which is a link, "Browse Maps." 


1. Select a U.S. State 

2. Select a city.

3. Select a date.  

Selecting a date opens a new page showing all available map sheets for the city selected.  The page contains thumbnail images of each Sanborn map.  By clicking on one of these thumbnails or the link below a thumbnail, a new window is opened showing the map selected.  From there, the user can zoom in and explore the map in their web browser, download the map as a PDF, or print the map directly from the website.

This online collection is accessible to University of Michigan faculty, staff and students only.