Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Sepia Sanborn mapThe Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Company, established in 1867, compiled and published maps of U.S. cities and towns for the fire insurance industry to assess fire risk. Between 1955 and 1978, the Library of Congress withdrew duplicate sheets and atlases from their collection and offered them to selected libraries. Maps for Missouri towns and cities were given to the MU libraries.


Documenting the layout of 390 Missouri cities from 1883 to 1951, the 1,283 maps in the collection are an invaluable research tool for urban historians, architectural historians, environmentalists, genealogists and preservationists.

The large scale (1 to 600) offers detailed information on the use made of commercial and industrial buildings, their size, shape, and construction material. Some residential areas are also mapped. The maps show the location of water mains, fire alarms and fire hydrants. They are color-coded to identify the structure (adobe, frame, brick, stone, iron) of each building.

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View Sanborn Maps for St. Joseph / Buchanan County.