Sanborn Maps

The next item from the collection is a group of city maps of Aberdeen dating back to 1912. That fact alone makes them pretty historically significant, but what really tops the cake is the fact that these maps are Sanborn maps.

Just to fill you in on what exactly a Sanborn map is, it all started in 1866 when a man named D.A. Sanborn founded a company called the D.A. Sanborn Insurance Diagram Bureau in New York City. He specialized in fire insurance maps, which provided customers with a wealth of information, including building outline, size, shape, windows and doors. The maps also usually included street and sidewalk widths, boundaries, property numbers, pipelines, railroads, water mains, dumps, and even what certain buildings were used for and the materials used in their construction. In essence, anything that might affect a property’s vulnerability to fire, earthquake, or flood was taken into account, because the maps were used to calculate risk involved in insuring certain properties.


(For a larger view of these maps, see link below.)

Under D.A. Sanborn’s guidance, his company flourished, and when he died in 1883 the company continued to grow even to the point of taking over other mapping firms. The name of the company changed as it took in the outside businesses until it was finally shortened to the Sanborn Map Company. Furthermore, in 1905 the company published the Surveyor’s Manual for the Exclusive Use and Guidance of Employees in order to ensure accuracy in their maps. Policies like these have kept the company going throughout the years, so it is not surprising that they are still around today and still making maps. With the city maps of Aberdeen being a product of this legacy, they are a truly valuable part of the collection.

Other useful links:
View all 1912 Aberdeen city maps (larger views available here)
Sanborn Maps official website
Sanborn Map information
View other items in the collection
View items by collection

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  1. Pingback: Combined Sanborn Maps | Aberdeen Area History

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