The Sanborn Maps "Special Indexes"
05 December 2023 by Paratext Editorial

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The Sanborn maps.

Ask any historian of early American history “what’s a Sanborn map?” and you’re likely to receive an earful.

The maps, which cover American cities decade-by-decade, chart the rapid change and growth of this country’s urban areas in a way matched by few other primary sources.  The digitized versions of Sanborn maps have been used by historians for years.

However, there exists a vital tool which has not been accessible in an integrated way until now: the Sanborn Special Indexes.

Many volumes of maps covering towns and cities included a “Special Index” which listed prominent businesses, houses of worship, and other institutions in the area. These Special Indexes are, essentially, a summary of the contents of a town. 

This is a remarkable resource for historical demography and social development studies. These Special Indexes are now being integrated into Paratext's Eight Centuries.  The first installment of the Sanborn Special Indexes--which includes all of California--is live now and available for searching. 

Other installments will be made periodically thereafter.   To learn more about all the exclusive content within Eight Centuries, please visit here


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