Sanborn fire insurance maps
Sanborn fire insurance maps can be used to determine a building's date of construction.
Extremely detailed maps of urban areas were produced by the Sanborn Map Company and other firms and sold to fire-insurance companies so they could use the information about each property to assign a risk factor for underwriting purposes. These maps show individual properties and buildings on those tracts using a complex set of symbols and colors to denote the construction details of each structure.
These maps are very useful in building restoration and determining when a structure was constructed. They also show lots and streets with names and numbers, locations of water lines and fire hydrants, and other features of the urban landscape. Each volume includes indexes of street names and significant buildings. Original mapping of Kansas was conducted by the Sanborn company from 1883 until 1954, and revisions were made as late as 1968. We have all of the Sanborn maps of the State, over 1,500 sets, on microfilm as well as a few originals of Topeka, Kansas City, Wichita, and some smaller towns. The microfilm may be borrowed on interlibrary loan. Maps that are no longer copyrighted are available online at University of Kansas Digital Commons website. Similar information on individual properties in written form may be found in the Kansas Inspection Bureau's Fire Insurance Rates Booklets, 1890-1944, in the manuscripts collection.
Two Sanborn maps listings are available: one arranged alphabetically by county and the other arranged alphabetically by town or city.