Sanborn Maps


Want to know more about your house? Then you need the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. These indispensable tools for historical cartographic research were created by the Sanborn Map and Publishing Company to help fire insurance companies find who they needed to bill and what they needed to pay, they now serve as an important record of America's urbanization.

The maps cover some 12,000 cities and towns across the country and were published from 1867 to 1970. Many libraries and historical societies will carry maps of their surrounding areas. The Ann Arbor District Library has copies (on micro film) for Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan, Saline, and Ypsilanti (with dates from 1884 to 1948). They can be found in the micro film drawers (2nd floor, way behind the periodicals desk).

Both the Detroit Public Library and the University of Michigan Map Library have collections covering much of southeast Michigan (the University of Michigan's can even be accessed online, but only by U of M students). If you're looking for a map of someplace further afield, the Ann Arbor District Library might be able to order something through inter library loan. You might also try to find a library or historical society in the area (some of them even have online maps you can browse for free!).


U of M has moved their map page:

(not that I really expect anyone to see this, but I like to be thorough)