Sanborn maps!

Fox Footprints: local history

The Appleton Public Library is very interested in preserving local history and collecting our shared stories. This blog is a place to share those stories, sometimes from Appleton, sometimes from elsewhere in Wisconsin. I hope to connect people with others who are interested in the footprints of the past. Feel free to chime in about your history.   -Karen


Have you discovered the terrific collection of historical maps available through the Wisconsin Historical Society yet?  Among others, it includes a large collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.  They are meticulously detailed snapshots focused on the business district of an area.  Originally created to help insurance agents determine the degree of fire hazard associated with a particular property, they are now a goldmine for researchers and historians.  These maps include physical characteristics of each building, including size, building materials, windows and doors.  They document street names, property boundaries, fire hydrants, water and gas mains and the names of most public buildings, churches and companies.  Rivers, canals, railroad corridors and similar features are also noted.  Some maps also include large portions of residential areas, where individual homes are recorded with as much precision as large factories.   We are fortunate enough to have copies of the 1883, 1886, 1891, 1895, 1901, 1911 and 1924 Sanborn maps in our collection here at the library, but now you can peruse most of these online as well.  Check it out!

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