Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps History

The Catalogue of Insurance Maps published by Sanborn Map Company 1950. New York, NY: Sanborn Map Company. 1949, page 3A provides the following description and history. (Located at the IUB Wells Library, East Tower 2 HG9771 .C37 1949). For additional information and current products, visit the Sanborn Map Company web site and EDR's Certified Sanborn Map Report.

In recent years Sanborn Maps have been usefully employed in many fields in addition to the fire insurance industry. They render a broad and valuable service to governmental and business orgnaizations concerned with the physical make-up and development of cities and towns....

The origin of fire insurance maps dates back more than one hundred years. Previous to the year 1850 Mr. George T. Hope of New York, Secretary of the Jefferson Insurance Company, conceived the idea of a map of the congested district of New York to replace the old time street register and actually had several sheets drawn. In 1850 Mr. William Perris at the instigation of Mr. Hope undertook to make a survey of New York City. In 1852 he issued "maps of the City of New York, surveyed under direction of insurance companies of said city by William Perris, civil engineer and surveyor."

In June 1856 we find a copyright for an insurance map issued to the Aetna Insurance Company through its Cincinnati office, then under the management of Mr. J.B. Bennett. In 1866 Mr. D.A. Sanborn, a civil engineer of Somerville, Massachusetts, was employed by Mr. Bennett to map certain towns in Tennessee. With his training as an engineer and his knowledge of maps he was not long in deciding that such surveys would be serviceable to all companies alike and, therefore, in that year established in New York the D.A. Sanborn National Insurance Diagram Bureau. Hence, to Mr. Sanborn must be given the pioneer honors of national insurance map publishing. Ten years later at the office of the Continental Insurance Company in New York was organized the Sanborn Map Publishing Company, Limited. In 1899 the company assumed the name of the Sanborn Perris Map Company, Limited, at which time it absorbed the activities of the Perris & Brown Company whose operations had been confined to New York City.

Thus it is obvious that the entire history of insurance map making in America is included in the orgnaization of the Sanborn Map Company, which present corporate name was assumed in 1902.

Therefore, for more than seventy years the Sanborn Map Company has been expanding and revising its large scale maps of cities and towns throughout the United States and insular possessions. Its publications number more than 11,000 and, as a general statement, include maps of every United States town of 2,000 or more in population. These maps always have been accepted as the most accurate and detailed building and construction record extant. They are of inestimable worth, not alone to the Fire Insurance Industry, but also to Private Research, Governmental and Municipal Agencies and Public Utilities.
 

About the Digital Collection

The digital images were created in a joint project between Indiana University and the Historical Information Gatherers, Inc.. A 2011 IndianaView grant funded the archiving of the digital maps on the Indiana Spatial Data Portal.


Union List of Sanborn Maps


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