Fire insurance maps are detailed city plans, usually at scales of 50 or 100 feet to an inch. They show individual building footprints, complete with construction details such as building material, number of stories, building use, and more. The maps were originally produced for insurance underwriters, but today are used by researchers in history, urban geography, architectural history, and other fields. For more information on Sanborn maps, please consult the website about the Library of Congress Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps collection.
The Earth Sciences & Map Library has a large collection of fire insurance maps for California, consisting mostly of online and microfilm sets. The Bancroft Library holds original fire insurance maps for some cities in California.
Search & find California fire insurance maps
Digital Sanborn Maps (1867-1970): view historical Sanborn maps of California cities via the library subscription [UCB access only].
Microfilm collections: use our microfilm collections to find other fire insurance maps. In particular, Sanborn maps of California from 1911-1991 can be found in Fire Insurance Maps from the Sanborn Map Company Archives (Microfilm 77648). Use the online index to identify relevant reels. Other important sets include:
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: California (Microfilm 31073) covers California cities from 1884-1957 but mostly duplicates the Digital Sanborn Maps
California Warehouse Book (Microfiche 2089) compiles Dakin Publishing maps for small California communities from 1885-1897
To find other fire insurance maps in our collections, use the Advanced Keyword Search in OskiCat to search for the subject keywords [fire insurance place name maps] (e.g., fire insurance california maps).
Search & find fire insurance maps for other states
You can search OskiCat to see if we hold any fire insurance maps for other states. However, most libraries only hold fire insurance maps for their own state, so your best bets are usually the Library of Congress Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps collection or local libraries in your state of interest. Consult the Union List of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for local libraries that hold specific maps.
The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) holds microfilm for all Sanborn fire insurance maps in the Library of Congress (1867-1970), and eligible UC Berkeley faculty and students can borrow the microfilm through Interlibrary Borrowing Services. Please contact the librarian for a consultation if you need Sanborn microfilm from CRL.
Other fire insurance map resources