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  1. Sanborn fire insurance maps, California 1895-1949 [microform]

    Teaneck, N.J. : Chadwyck-Healey, [1984].

  2. Union list of Sanborn fire insurance maps held by institutions in the United States and Canada

    Hoehn, R. Philip, 1941-
    Santa Cruz, CA : Western Association of Map Libraries, c1976.

  3. Fire insurance maps : their history and applications

    Oswald, Diane L.
    College Station, Tex. : Lacewing Press, c1997.

    "Fire insurance maps are the footprints of America's Industrial Revolution, ... relics that bear witness to the mortality of businesses, industries and cities"--Cover.

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  1. Sanborn fire insurance map collection online

    Sanborn maps are a favorite of any map librarian.  What's not to like about them?  They give us a view into the history of our country in a way that few other maps do.  They show the growth and decline of towns and cities.  They track the changing use of buildings over time.  At times they tell us who lived and worked in specific areas.  We peek into the past to understand what kept people entertained, be it an amusement park, a skating rink, a movie theater, or a bar.  The Sanborn Fire Insurance Company began producing these maps in the late 19th century for towns and cities throughout the United States in order to provide information to insurers about the composition and use of buildings to allow for the correct underwriting of policies.  The maps include: building footprints; building material shown by color, height and number of stories; uses such as dwellings, hotels, churches, and chicken coops; street widths, water pipes, hydrants, and cisterns.  This provides historians, genealogists, urban planners, and ethnologist with a wealth of information about the nation's past.   A handful of libraries hold large collections of these maps, more own a smattering.  I would say that Stanford Libraries hold a bit more than a smattering, but nothing like comprehensive coverage of any given area.  We hold in paper about 230 sets of maps that range in size from a single page to multiple volumes covering the city of San Francisco.  We have scanned the items that are out of copyright - 47 areas in all including two atlases held at the David Rumsey Map Center showing Hallowell, Maine from December 1889 and Frankfort, Kentucky dated September 1907. While we may not hold a huge number, we do have some gems.  One set of maps is of Mission Beach, California from 1929.  Included on page 7 is the Mission Beach Amusement Center  build by business mogul John D. Spreckels in 1925.  The park is massive and includes the wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster and a Natatorium for bathing.  There is a ballroom capable of holding parties for 5,000 dancers, a roller skating rink, a fun house, a shooting gallery, a "wonderland", "honeymoon trail", and a "skooter" all near the concession stands and merry go round.  Only the Giant Dipper and the Natatorium, now called The Plunge, remain.   The Pacific Southwest Exposition in Long Beach was captured on a Sanborn map, which I find amazing as the Expo lasted not much longer than a blink of an eye.  The map is dated August 1928.  The Exposition opened on July 27, 1928.  It was designed to look like a Tunisian City with courtyards and a Muezzin Tower.  Like many World's Fairs and expositions, this one had pavilions highlighting foreign countries.  On the map we see areas dedicated to Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, France, Bolivia, Persia and Spain.  People could also go to the movies and visit buildings devoted to textiles, marine and transportation, the arts, education, and industry.  Over 1,000,000 people visiting the Expo before it closed on September 3, 1928.  The buildings were not made to last and indeed they didn't.  On that last day, the dome of the Fine Arts building collapsed with four people severely injured by the wreckage.  The collapse dampened some spirits, but the closing ceremonies went on until midnight with operatic singing, speeches, and moonlit walks.   Stanford's collection is now online in an exhibit  that allows you to browse, view, and download the scanned maps from the collection.  Each town or city has its own browsable section.  An interactive index makes it easy to look for specific streets or neighborhoods when it takes multiple sheets to cover a region.  Enjoy exploring! This exhibit was created using Spotlight at Stanford, a layer of services that integrates with Stanford Libraries' discovery, access, and preservation infrastructure.  Spotlight at Stanford is available for use by members of the Stanford community who wish to enhance user engagement with their digital materials.  If you are interested in learning more about Spotlight at Stanford, please contact the service team.  

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  2. Databases of the week: maps and geospatial data plus GIS Day!

    Stop! What you are about to read is good stuff but if you also register for GISDay@Stanford 2019, it will be even better. Please note that registration is currently restricted to Stanford affiliates. If you would like to attend but are not a Stanford affiliate, please add yourself to the waiting list and we will release unclaimed tickets the week before the event. GISDay@Stanford is the Stanford Geospatial Center's annual celebration of spatial data technologies in research and teaching. This year we are focusing on applications of spatial data in art, privacy, and humanitarian work.  Okay, go on.   The following databases are recommended by your resident map and geospatial nerds:  GeoFacets Unless you’re looking to reinvent the wheel, Geofacets is your ticket to enhancing the efficiency of your research efforts. You can use this interactive and intuitive tool to search for and extract maps, figures, and tables from scientific publications and with their collection being nearly 2 million items deep, the odds are in your favor.  SimplyAnalytics Do you have research questions that can be answered by demographic, business, health, or marketing data for the United States and Canada? SimplyAnalytics is an intuitive analytic tool that allows you to create custom maps and reports by applying your own data and/or selecting from their catalog of over 75,000 variables.  EarthWorks EarthWorks is Stanford University's online catalog for discovering and downloading geographic information systems (GIS) data, maps, and other geographic datasets. It allows users to search and browse the GIS collections not only owned by Stanford Libraries but as well as data collections from many other institutions. If you are conducting research that will result in useful geospatial vector or raster data, you can leave a feedback note to contact those who can help you deposit this data into the Stanford Digital Repository and then also become searchable and downloadable in EarthWorks.  Nineteenth Century Collections Online | Mapping the World: Maps and Travel Literature Want access to international collections such as those from the British Library and the National Archvies at Kew? Nineteenth Century Collections Online has culled selections from map collections around the world to provide users with access to materials such as the King George III Topographical Collection and Ministry of Defense Maps. Equipped with download, share, and citation tools, this intuitive resource is an excellent way to begin incorporating maps into your research. Imagery With Planet’s growing constellation of over 200 small satellites, also known as Doves, they are able to image the Earth’s surface once every day with medium-high resolution imagery which can then be used to create basemaps and enable analysis along with many other applications. Access to Planet’s services is managed by the Stanford Geospatial Center; to read more about these services and the access request process, click here.  Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970 | California Become an empowered nosey neighbor or use them for research, your choice. The Sanborn Map Company began publishing delightfully detailed maps for fire insurance companies in the 19th century and continued to do so until the 1960s. Property boundaries, building materials, and the location of fire hydrants are just some of the details you can find within the database for Digital Sanborn Maps of California. 

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  3. New collections added to the Stanford Digital Repository in April and May, 2014

    In April and May, approximately 570,000 new files representing around 1700 new items were accessioned into the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). These materials include -- but are not limited to -- items from the Caricatures of Black Americans collection, the People's Computer Company, and the Jarndyce collection. Stanford Oral History Project The Stanford Historical Society's Oral History Program explores the institutional history of the University, with an emphasis on the transformative post-WWII period, through interviews with leading faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and others. The project furthers the Society's mission "to foster and support the documentation, study, publication, and preservation of the history of the Leland Stanford Junior University.Example: Added to SDR this month: 26 itemsCollection Contact: Daniel Hartwig Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University was established on November 11, 1885, by the Grant Founding and Endowing the Leland Stanford Junior University (the "Founding Grant"). The Board of Trustees did not hold meetings until 1898, when Jane Stanford first served as President of the Board. Regular meetings began in 1903 following Jane Stanford's decision to transfer oversight of the university to the Board.  The Board administers the university's invested funds, sets the annual budget, determines polices for operation and control of the university and has the power to appoint a president. The minutes of the Board of Trustees are a vital institutional record and are one of the must consulted resources by researchers and university staff.Example: Added to SDR this month: 52 itemsCollection Contact: Daniel Hartwig Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Fire insurance maps are detailed plans showing building footprints, building material, height or number of stories, doors, windows, chimneys, elevators, address and lot lines, use, street widths, water pipes, hydrants and cisterns.  While originally produced for insurance purposes, the maps are now useful in disciplines such as history, architectural history, ethnic studies, and urban archaeology.Example: to SDR this month: 465 mapsCollection Contact: Jane Ingalls and G. Salim Mohammed Caricatures of Black Americans This collection contains items depicting white perceptions of African Americans as portrayed in the cover illustrations of sheet music. The quality of the artwork varies with its depictions; from crude racism to fairly refined perceptions of Black life over the period from the overthrow of slavery to the Great Depression.Example: Added to SDR this month: 117 itemsCollection Contact: Glynn Edwards Jarndyce The nineteenth-century novel is one of the key areas of research and teaching for the English Department at Stanford, with many faculty and graduate students concentrating on this genre and time period. The Study for the Center of the Novel, which generates much dynamic discussion and scholarship on the form, came about due to the intense engagement with this seminal form at Stanford. The single-volume novel, of the type represented in this collection from Jarndyce, was a precursor to the form of the twentieth-century novel and novella.Example: to SDR this month: 26 novelsCollection Contact: Rebecca Wingfield People’s Computer Company The newsletters of the People’s Computer Company and the Homebrew Computer Club are important documents of the early history of Microcomputing. Stanford University's collection is one of the most complete sets in the world. The project will produce nearly complete digitized sets of these historical publications which will be invaluable to researchers interested in the history of Silicon Valley and the history of Microcomputing.Example: Added to SDR this month: 5 newslettersCollection Contact: Henry Lowood Gaihozu Maps Over three hundred additional "Gaihozu Maps" depicting Japan and territories outside of Japan (referred to as "Gaihozu") were added to SDR. Created between the Meiji era and the end of WWII, this collection is part of a world-wide effort to preserve this historically and scientifically important set of materials. Branner Library holds around 10,000 of these maps. This is a continuation of the digitization efforts for this collection.  For more information, please see the article on the Gaihozu maps in ReMix: The Stanford University Libraries Newsletter.Example: Added to SDR this month: 353 mapsCollection Contact: Jane Ingalls and G. Salim Mohammed Inclusion in the Stanford Digital Repository ensures that these materials are available to researchers and scholars (while upholding appropriate access restrictions), now and in the future through a secure, sustainable stewardship environment. While many of these objects are already discoverable via SearchWorks others will get SearchWorks records in the coming months. All materials are currently available via the item’s PURL (a persistent URL which ensure that these materials are available from a single URL over the long-term, regardless of changes in file location or application technology). Questions about the Stanford Digital Repository service should be directed to

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