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About the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Digital Collections

Scope and Content

The Digital Sanborn Maps of Milwaukee 1894 & 1910 brings online 2 fire insurance atlases featuring detailed color maps of Milwaukee. Produced by the Sanborn Map Company, the 1894 atlas includes four volumes, consisting of 450 map sheets and the 1910 atlas includes eight volumes, consisting of 830 map sheets. Sanborn maps were designed to assist fire insurance agents with insuring property. Produced for over 12,000 urbanized areas in the United States, Sanborn maps have been described by the Library of Congress as "the single most important record of urban growth and development in the United States during the past one hundred years."

Sanborn maps are excellent historical resources for academic, professional and personal needs. Planners, preservationists, genealogists, architects, urban geographers and historians are among those who will enjoy using this digital collection.

Some features found on Sanborn fire insurance maps include: construction material of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories, fire walls, windows, doors, style and composition of roofs, wall thickness, cracks in exterior walls, elevator locations, building uses, sidewalk and street widths, layout and ownership names, property boundaries, distance between buildings, house and block numbers, location of water mains, hydrants, piping, wells, cisterns, and fuel storage tanks.

The Digital Project

The digital collection provides access to the Sanborn maps of Milwaukee of 1894 and 1910 in two versions: as PDF files and as high resolution images in the JPEG2000 format with corresponding searchable records.

The maps were scanned at 300 dpi resolution using a large format scanner Colortrac 4280 in the American Geographical Society Library. Digital master files in the TIFF format serve as a source for JPEG2000 images presented in CONTENTdm software. High resolution images in CONTENTdm software correspond to individual map sheets. Through zooming and panning technology, map images can be seen in great detail. The records were built with CONTENTdm digital media management software using Dublin Core metadata. The collection in CONTENTdm is fully searchable and users can search maps and indexes by street names, names of businesses, or names of historical landmarks. In addition, users may search the modern Google Earth map interface to link to sheets within the atlas.

The PDF versions were created to provide access to atlases by volume. Users can browse the volumes, but this version is not keyword searchable. The PDF versions can be downloaded for use. They are available from the PDF Version page.


Project Staff:
Caleb Baker, UW-M School of Information Studies, Graduate Student
Eleanore (Nellie) Bednarek, Staff, Digitization Unit, UWM Libraries
Tom Brittnacher, Digital Spatial Data Librarian at the American Geographical Society Library
Angie Cope, Cataloging Academic Librarian, American Geographical Society Library, UWM Libraries
Krystyna K. Matusiak, Digital Collections Librarian, UWM Libraries

Copyright and Permissions

Digital Sanborn Maps of Wisconsin 1894 & 1910 is published by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. Copyright © 2010. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

The images may be copied by individuals or libraries for personal use, research, teaching or any "fair use" as defined by copyright law. Fair use of copyright-protected works for study, research, and other purposes does not require the permission of the copyright owner provided that the use meets the standard specified in Section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law.

Use Order Images form to request high-resolution digital reproductions of images.

Permission to reproduce materials in this collection for publication or distribution must be obtained from the American Geographical Society Library of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. Please see the Permission Form for Reproduction of Materials.

Contact Information

Please send us your comments or suggestions regarding the collection.

Phone: 414-229-2214
Mailing address:
Digitization Unit
UWM Libraries
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PO BOX 604
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0604

Created: January 2010
Updated: October 12, 2011

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