Fire 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.
Lists of Sanborn maps held by MNHS:
Sanborn Maps Online:
The index of Rascher Insurance Maps is in the Hubbs microfilm room at the library.
MHS call number: G1429.S4 R38 1891 Index
Gale Family Library
Minnesota Historical Society Library
Located on the Second Floor of the Minnesota History Center
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Thursday to Saturday: 9am to 4pm
Sunday to Wednesday: Closed