Research Services
First Friday Genealogy
With Sassy Jane

The Monthly Genealogy Newsletter
Vol. 10 No. 05

June 2021 Issue


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The June issue of First Friday Genealogy with Sassy Jane features links to fire insurance maps for US and international locations.

Last month's issue was about using fire insurance maps for family history research.
Insurance companies created these maps— sometimes known by the brand name Sanborn® or Goad®—to determine how many buildings they had insured in a specific area.

Fire insurance maps are used today by historians, genealogists, and other researchers seeking insight into what a city, town, or even specific street address, was like at a certain point in time.

On their own, or combined with other sources such as city directories, photographs, small-scale maps, census records, and family histories, fire insurance maps add to our understanding of exactly where our ancestors lived.

Two notes before you search:
1. In the US, they are fire insurance maps; in the UK, Canada, and Australia, they are most often referred to as fire insurance plans

2. Fire insurance maps and plans are held by many libraries and archives. Large collections are featured in this newsletter, but don't forget to search local research and genealogy libraries, too. 

Now let's go find these online fire maps and plans for the US, Canada, Mexico, and the UK. 

Fire Insurance Plans for the UK

Digital Sanborn Maps Database

A subscription database from Proquest, Digital Sanborn Maps (1867-1970) delivers detailed property and land-use records that "depict the grid of everyday life in more than 12,000 U.S. towns and cities across a century of change." 

Proquest built this collection by digitizing more than 600,000 fire insurance maps for all 50 states and Washington, DC, mostly from their microfilm holdings. More than 12,000 cities and towns across the US are featured.

Note that this database is priced for institutional purchase; some libraries are only able to afford fire insurance maps for a specific state. 

To find the nearest library to visit in person that subscribes to this database,
use this Worldcat link.
To learn more about using fire insurance maps for research, visit last month's issue here.

Library of Congress Collection

Perhaps there is no library near you with access to the Proquest Digital Sanborn Maps database.

You can find free fire insurance maps are at the Library of Congress. Discover more than 35,000 digitized images out of 50,597 fire insurance maps held at LC.

LC's search interface is easy to use and offers online maps for the following locations: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, OH, OK, PA, SD, TX, VA, VT, WY, Canada, Mexico, sugar warehouses in Cuba, and US whiskey warehouses.

For access to Library of Congress fire insurance maps that have not been digitized, or to ask research questions about this collection, consult 
Ask A Librarian.
NGS Streaming Presentations Begin June 15
Streaming on-demand presentations for the National Genealogical Society conference begin on June 15.

Look for my session called European Immigrant Ancestors: Why They Left and How They Got Here, 1865-1920.

Download the conference program and register at this link. Can't make the presentation? The related ebook is available here

Fire Insurance Plans for Canada

Fire Insurance Plans at the Library and Archives of Canada include plans from 1858-1932 for these Canadian cities and towns:  Other major fire insurance map collections in Canada include: McGill University, University of Toronto Libraries, University of Calgary Libraries, and University of British Columbia LibrariesAbove: plate 19 of the 1890 Goad Atlas of Toronto

Fire Insurance Maps of Mexico

In addition to the fire insurance maps for Mexico at the Library of Congress, consult the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin. 
So that's a lot of information about fire insurance maps. Questions? Comments? Let me know.

Thanks for your answers to my survey last month. Over the summer, I'll be using your feedback to improve Sassy Jane. 

Stay safe! Stay healthy! See you in July.
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