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Fire Insurance Maps at the Library of Congress: A Resource Guide

The Geography and Map Division holds extensive fire insurance map collections useful in genealogy research, environmental studies, urban planning, and more. This guide assists researchers in both discovering and navigating these primary source materials.

Introduction

The Library of Congress Geography and Map Division holds one of the largest collections of fire insurance maps in the world. Insurance maps and plans originated in London toward the end of the eighteenth century in response to the need felt by large fire insurance companies and underwriters for accurate, current, and detailed information about the buildings they were insuring. These maps are detailed, building level map sheets that can be useful for all types of research including genealogy, environmental studies, urban planning, and more.

The majority of fire insurance maps in the collection date between 1880-1960. While the Sanborn Map Company came to dominate the field, many smaller publishers also produced maps of this type that are included in our collections. This guide will help researchers to understand and search the vast collection of fire insurance maps available at the Library.

E. Petrie. Ichnography of Charleston, South-Carolina : at the request of Adam Tunno, Esq., for the use of the Phoenix Fire-Company of London. 1790. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.