All of the maps published before 1923 are now available to view online.
There are additionally a handful of non-Missouri Sanborn maps in the library's collection.
The 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 1283 maps in the collection are an invaluable research tool for urban historians, architectural historians, environmentalists, genealogists and preservationists.
The large scale (1:600) 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.
Microfiche copies of the maps are also available.
Commercially prepared microfilm of maps for 55 Missouri cities dating from 1941-1992 supplement the collection.
Holdings: 1283 maps (10,351 sheets)
The collection is cataloged. A list of the maps in the collection is available below. For preservation reasons, Special Collections will not make photocopies of Sanborn Maps. Please contact Environmental Data Resources, Inc. if you wish to order complete copies of Sanborn maps, or contact us to make other arrangements. A portion of the Sanborn Maps of Missouri Collection has been digitally scanned and is available online.
The paper maps must be used in the Special Collections reading room during service hours or by appointment. The microfiche and microfilm copies are available all hours that Ellis Library is open in room 303. Microfiche and microfilm copies of the maps may be borrowed via interlibrary loan.
While most of the Sanborn maps have keys, the University of Virginia Libraries compiled a very useful guide to interpreting the symbols and colors used on the maps. It is available here.