Kent State University Sanborn Fire Insurance maps

About the Collection

The Sanborn Maps are large scale street plans produced by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company from 1882 to 1967.

Sanborn Maps show the outline of each building including the location of windows and doors together with street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. The maps display building materials, number of floors, and building purpose (if available). Businesses, churches, and government structures are often identified as well as the business type (cotton mill, automobile repair, etc.). An individual homeowner/ occupier is not identified.

These maps are used by a wide range of researchers including local historians to locate and identify buildings and neighborhoods, urban historians to study the growth of towns and cities, and environmentalists concerned about the impact of new developments.

The first batch of Sanborns loaded into OAKS in December 2020 include Akron, and additional maps will be uploading in the coming months. Thanks to funds from the Ohio Local History Alliance (OLHA) digitization grant and Ohio History Fund grant that covered much of the digitization costs, as well as assistance from University Libraries.

Additionally, Cleveland Public Library has a selection of their Ohio Sanborn collection digitized and the Library of Congress also includes some Ohio maps as well. Library of Congress also provides a helpful page on the colors and keys.

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