What’s Your History?

What did my house look like 50 years ago before the addition was built?

You may want to know the history of the house you’re living in now, or view the history of a property you’re interested in purchasing. Or maybe your family owned a business decades ago and you’d like to see the changes that occurred over time to the building and surrounding neighborhood.

Neighborhood organizations and community centers want to see how their area has grown over time, how the city has grown and what businesses were operating in a specific area in past decades.

For individual researchers and local organizations, we provide access to historical maps that are easier to read than most and have a greater level of detail because of our advanced scanning technology and the fact that our maps are scanned in color. Because the black and white microfilm and digital versions of fire insurance maps currently available at most libraries do not include the original color-coding system, they lack the details about building construction materials that are an important part of the original maps.

Our collections of historical aerial photography, city directories and historical maps, particularly the Library of Congress Fire Insurance Maps, can also be used by academic researchers. Many of the fire insurance maps were updated historically by pasting paper correction slips onto the existing maps. Our high resolution color scans are so detailed, you can often see through the correction slips to the invaluable layers of detail on the underlying map. Previously available maps that were scanned in black and white obscure these details.

Click here to order fire insurance maps.

To read more about this project visit our Library of Congress Digital Map Project page.