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Maps at MNHS: Fire Insurance

A guide to accessing maps and other geospatial resources at MNHS.

About Fire Insurance Maps

Sanborn MapFire Insurance maps are useful tools for seeing what certain buildings and neighborhoods looked like in the past.  They were originally created to help insure particular properties against fire.  

MNHS has Fire Insurance maps and urban atlases for large urban areas, cities, towns and villages.  

The atlases for Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth (from the mid 1880s to the 1940s) cover the totality of the corporate limits.  They are detailed maps showing the footprint and construction materials of residences, industrial sites, and commercial buildings.  Property boundaries, building use, house and block numbers, as well as names and widths of streets are notated in these maps.

MNHS also has more than 950 Insurance maps and atlases for Minnesota towns and cities (1870s-1970s).  

Sanborn and Rascher insurance maps are useful for conducting city level research.  Fire Underwriters Inspection Bureau Maps, or Fisher maps, are useful for researching smaller communities.  

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Lists of Sanborn maps held by MNHS:

1867-1950

1950-1970

Sanborn Maps Online:

  • View the Sanborn Maps online via a computer at MNHS.
  • View Sanborn Maps online via Hennepin County Library (you must have a Hennepin County barcode to access).

Print Resources:

  • Sanborn maps are available for viewing at the library on microfilm.

Fire Underwriters Inspections Bureau Maps

Print Resources:

  • List of Fire Underwriters Inspections Bureau Maps available for viewing at the library.

Rascher Insurance Maps

The index of Rascher Insurance Maps is in the Hubbs microfilm room at the library.
MHS call number: G1429.S4 R38 1891 Index

Print Resources:

  • Atlas of Duluth
    MNHS call number: Microfilm 1725
  • Atlas of Minneapolis and suburbs
    MNHS call number: Microfilm 1724
  • Atlas of St. Paul
    MNHS call number: Microfilm 1726

Online Resources:

  • Digitized version of the St. Paul Rascher Atlas Vol. 1
  • Digitized version of the St. Paul Rascher Atlas Vol. 2
  • Digitized version of the St. Paul Rascher Atlas Vol. 3
  • Digitized version of the St. Paul Rascher Atlas Vol. 4

Fire Insurance Maps Links

MNHS Reference Staff

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MN Historical Society Library
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

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Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Tuesday: 9am to 8pm • Wed. to Sat.: 9am to 4pm • Sunday & Monday: Closed • Holiday Hours