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Newly digitized Sanborn maps offer slices of history for 241 Kansas cities and towns

Monday, June 27, 2011

A $30,000 grant has helped the University of Kansas Libraries digitize and deliver slices of history in the form of highly detailed, full-color maps that document 241 cities and towns in Kansas.​

The Sanborn Map Company created maps of cities across the U.S. at intervals of four or five years, starting in the late 1860s. The maps provided insurance underwriters with information about the locations of businesses, the structures they were located in, and any information needed to assess their liability for insurance purposes, such as building materials used. Now they show how cities changed and grew over time, and offer insights into Kansas history.

“There’s a tremendous amount of detail—where windows were located, number of stories to a building, roof composition,” Sherry Williams, curator of collections at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, said of the maps. “Historians, historic preservationists, architects and city planners love these maps, and making them freely available online will bring them to whole new audiences.”

Prior to this project, visitors to KU’s Spencer Research Library could see and use the complete set of print maps for Kansas, but no color digital versions were available online until now.

The grant, from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, funded the digitization of the maps documenting Kansas cities and towns from 1883 through 1922 (which are now in the public domain); KU Libraries provided the online home for the digital collection, comprising 5,245 images, at http://cds.lib.ku.edu/sanborn-maps. The collection is searchable by city, county and date.

Williams served as the project director, and Wade Garrison, librarian with the Center for Digital Scholarship at KU Libraries, was the project manager.

Spencer Research Library and its staff are dedicated to the preservation of diverse collections ranging from medieval manuscripts and other rare books to Kansas historical records to national political documents.

The Center for Digital Scholarship supports KU’s evolving research environment with expertise and tools for creating and using digital scholarship to enhance research, teaching, and learning at the University of Kansas.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission promotes the preservation and use of America's documentary heritage essential to understanding our democracy, history and culture.

The 241 cities in Kansas represented are:

Abilene
Alma
Altoona
Anthony
Arkansas City
Atchison
Attica
Augusta
Baldwin City
Baxter Springs 
Beattie
Belle Plaine
Belleville
Beloit
Bern
Blue Rapids
Burlingame
Burlington
Burr Oak
Burrton
Caldwell
Caney
Carbondale
Cawker City
Cedar Vale
Centralia
Chanute
Chapman
Cheney
Cherokee
Cherryvale
Chetopa
Clay Center
Clifton
Clyde
Coffeyville
Colby
Coldwater
Columbus
Concordia
Cottonwood Fall 
Council Grove
Dodge City

Douglass
Downs
El Dorado 
Elk City
Ellinwood
Ellis
Ellsworth
Emporia
Enterprise
Erie
Eureka
Everest
Florence
Fort Scott
Frankfort
Fredonia
Galena
Garden City
Garnett
Gas
Girard
Goodland
Great Bend
Greenleaf
Greensburg
Grenola
Halstead
Hanover
Harper
Hays
Herington
Hiawatha
Highland
Hillsboro
Hoisington
Holton
Horton
Howard
Humboldt
Hutchinson
Independence
Iola
Irving

Junction City
Kansas City
Kingman
Kinsley
Kiowa
Kirwin
La Cygne La Harpe
Larned
Latham
Lawrence
Leavenworth
Leon
Leonardville
Liberal
Lincoln
Lindsborg
Longton
Lyndon
Lyons
Manhattan
Mankato
Marion
Marysville
McPherson
Medicine Lodge 
Minneapolis
Moline
Mulvane
Neodesha
Newton
Nickerson
Norton
Oberlin
Olathe
Osage City
Osawatomie
Osborne
Oskaloosa
Oswego
Ottawa
Paola
Parsons
Peabody

Phillipsburg
Pittsburg
Pleasanton
Pratt
Randolph
Rossville
Russell
Sabetha
Salina
Sedan 
Sedgwick
Seneca
Severance
Smith Center
Solomon
St. John
St. Marys
St. Paul
Stafford
Sterling
Stockton
Strong City
Summerfield
Topeka
Treece
Troy
Valley Falls
WaKeeney
Wamego
Washington
Waterville
Weir
Wellington
West Mineral
Wetmore
White Cloud
Wichita
Winchester
Winfield
Wyandotte
Yates Center



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