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Tulane University Special Collections - Guide to Architectural Holdings

A guide to architectural holdings of the Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC)

How to Locate Fire Insurance Maps and Surveys in TUSC

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Founded by D.A. Sanborn and first published in 1867, the Sanborn Map and Publishing Company produced maps for some twelve thousand cities and towns across the United, States, Canada, and Mexico. The maps assisted fire insurance agents by recording the size, shape, and construction of buildings defined by elaborate color-coded keys. The first year they published for New Orleans was 1876, and TUSC preserves the only known copies of the two volume set. Below are links and tips on locating bound copies for New Orleans, other Louisiana cities, and Mississippi, preserved by TUSC; b/w digital maps; and recently digitized color maps held at the Library of Congress, and the digitized 1876 maps for New Orleans. The following are links to all the various bound and digital Sanborn Maps in TUSC collections, and digital databases available online.

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, New Orleans, other Louisiana cities, and Mississippi. 1876 – 1979. These are the bound volumes in TUSC’s Southeastern Architectural Archive.

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Louisiana, 1867 – 1970. This is the b/w digital subscription database through ProQuest. You will need to access from Tulane's campus, or from off-campus with your Tulane University credentials. You can access only Louisiana Sanborn Maps through Tulane's subscription.

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, United States. This is the color digital database through the Library of Congress. Coverage for New Orleans covers 1885 to 1951. This also includes an excellent guide on using Sanborn Maps.

Learn more about how to use and interpret Sanborn Maps:

Learn more about Daniel Alfred Sanborn:

 

Langermann and Celles Fire Insurance Atlases. TUSC preserves seven fire insurance atlases covering various districts of New Orleans. One undated volume for the Sixth District has the name of civil engineer J.A. Celles. Volumes for 1873 for the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Districts were made by New Orleans surveyor August B. Langermann. Only the 1873, Fourth District volume is signed by Langermann, but the others are similar in presentation, and are presumed to be by him.

Included in the collection are unsigned and undated atlases; one for the Third District, dated 1873, and one for the Sixth District, dated 1875.

These atlases show district blocks and property boundaries. Some also show front portions of buildings on properties; rear portions are generally not shown. Buildings are color coded to indicate construction materials. Some atlases have notations indicating owners and values of properties. The following image will take you to the finding aid for the collection in TUSC’s Southeastern Architectural Archive.

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Fire Insurance Atlas, Fourth District, New Orleans. A.B. Langermann. 1873. Detail of Sheet 2. Langermann and Celles Fire Insurance Atlases, SEAA-Collection 122.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braun New Orleans Fire Insurance Atlases. TUSC preserves three fire insurance atlases for the city of New Orleans compiled by surveyor-architect John F. Braun, and engraved and printed by H.N. Wehrmann of New Orleans. One atlas, dated 1877, covers the Third District of the city. The other two, dated 1874 and 1877, cover the Fourth District. The atlases show district blocks and include buildings which are color coded to indicate construction materials. Symbols and handwritten notes provide additional information.

The Robinson Fire Insurance Atlas of 1883 was based on the Braun atlases (see SEAA-Collection 123). The following image will open the finding aid to the collection in TUSC’s Southeastern Architectural Archive.

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Plan Book of the Third District…Jonathan
F. Braun. New Orleans: H.N. Wehrmann,
1877. Detail of Sheet 8. Braun New Orleans Fire Insurance Atlases, SEAA-Collection 123.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robinson New Orleans Fire Insurance Atlas. TUSC preserves a copy of the 1883 Robinson Fire Insurance Atlas for New Orleans. The atlas covers the entire city at the time of 1883, and illustrates blocks with buildings of individual properties. Buildings are color coded to indicate construction materials. Notes and symbols provide additional information. The atlas was drawn on a fairly small scale, resulting in a sacrifice of detail. Robinson based his atlas on earlier atlases made by John F. Braun in 1874 and 1877 (see SEAA Collection 123), and information in the Robinson is not always current to 1883. Published as Atlas of the City of New Orleans, Louisiana. New York: E. Robinson and R.H. Pidgeon, 1883. 

Compiled by civil engineers Elisha Robinson and Roger H. Pidgeon. Engraving was done by A.H. Mueller of Philadelphia. The map was conserved in 2016. The following image will open the finding aid to the atlas in TUSC’s Southeastern Architectural Archive.

The Orleans Parish Notarial Archives' Research Center has digitized its copy of the Robinson New Orleans Fire Insurance Atlas; and there is also a digital version of it on Wikimedia Commons.

 

Atlas of the City of New Orleans, Louisiana,
New York: E. Robinson and R.H. Pidgeon. 1883. Detail of plate showing Lee Circle. Robinson New Orleans Fire Insurance Atlas, SEAA-Collection 124.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guy Seghers Office Records. The Guy Seghers Office Records in TUSC’s Southeastern Architectural Archive consists of land surveys done for cities, parishes, and the state of Louisiana; subdivision surveys done for property developers; and individual residential property surveys (this constitutes the bulk of the collection). The Seghers company, and its predecessor firms, was started in New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century, and includes earlier maps and surveys done by others.

The Irish Channel Architectural Survey in TUSC’s Louisiana Research Collection is a survey done for the New Orleans neighborhood known as the Irish Channel, and area an area which is bounded by Philip, Delachaise, and Constance Streets and the Mississippi River. For each of the approximately 3,600 housing units, there is a 5 x 8 inch printed form with handwritten notes regarding: street, number, original use, present use, style/type, materials, architectural/historical rating, physical condition, number and kind of trees, general comments and negative factors. Each structure is featured in a black and white contact print, many of which include parked cars. Included also are handwritten and photocopied typed sheets, journals of projects, flyers, and photographic negatives, summary statistics for the area, Trinity Episcopal Church survey, and class notes of some of the students who produced the survey as part of an Architecture Seminar in Historic Preservation given by Dr. Bernard Lemann at Tulane University, fall of 1975.

Plan of Plantation Belonging to Francois Merieult. TUSC’s Louisiana Research Collection preserves an important survey of an Opelousas, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana plantation made for Francois Merieult circa 1811. The first sheet is a ink and watercolor on paper perspective plan of the property, showing the principal residence, slave cabins, and planting fields, created by creole architect Barthélémy Lafon. The second sheet is a description of the property and mortgage disclaimer. Signed by Lafon on December 15, 1811, a notary on January 20, 1812, and by territorial governor William C.C. Claiborne on March 28, 1812.

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Plan of the Gurlie Property Divided into Lots Situated between Bayou Road and Canal Carondelet. July 30, 1836. [Detail]. Louis Bringier, surveyor. Guy Seghers Office Records, SEAA-Collection 41.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some helpful links to digital Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, guides to using and interpreting Sanborn Maps, and information on D.A. Sanborn.

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Louisiana, 1867 – 1970. This is the b/w digital subscription database through ProQuest. You will need to access from Tulane's campus, or from off-campus with your Tulane University credentials. You can access only Louisiana Sanborn Maps through Tulane's subscription.

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, United States. This is the color digital database through the Library of Congress. Coverage for New Orleans covers 1885 to 1951. This also includes an excellent guide on using Sanborn Maps.

Learn more about how to use and interpret Sanborn Maps:

Learn more about Daniel Alfred Sanborn:

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