Did you know that in some parts of the world, the value of a house increases if it has a legacy behind it? Of course, your house may not be a heritage building or a famous place. But rest assured, every house has a story. Intrigued? You may be wondering, “How do I find the history of my house?”
Why should I do a home history research project?
Put aside the history of your house. Instead, you should try to understand the history of your house, as it is an exercise that can help you to know who your ancestors were and the roots of your family.
Even retrieving clues for boring questions like “Who built my house?”, “Who lived in my house?” or “What was here before?” it might reveal remarkable stories for a future fireside story. A search for the history of the house is a fascinating project. If you’re lucky, you’ll get it all in one place. That’s rare, so you have to do some research.
So take the online route to discover more about your home. Here are seven websites you can tap to track your home’s history.
Do you feel like you are in unknown territory? Then this guide is a quick and easy read on how to trace your home’s history. The focus is the UK, but the general principles remain the same throughout the world. There are some pages and resources. dedicated to the united states also.
The helpful resource will guide you through the step-by-step research process that starts with getting to know the building itself. But a large part of the process has to be offline. Therefore, web research is just a useful assistant.
We recommend that you work backwards from what you know now; taking one step at a time and making sure at each stage that you are satisfied that you have the right house and the right path.
Start by examining public records and get help from newspaper archives, census records, old maps, and your local parish.
Again, for those in the UK, the BBC Family History The page also has a small but clear guide on how to start your research.
This federal agency maintains all historical, genealogical, and land records. The land records section contains a large amount of information hidden in land patents, land case entries, estate ownership, reclamation records, and more among the ten million individual land records filed in the office.
The site is a comprehensive guide to federal records and could be a helpful starting point. NARA also links to powerful search aids (and other databases) such as Heritage Quest Online, fold3Y The institution of descent. Some indices may be password protected and for registered members only.
Try The National Archives For home history research if you’re in the UK, head below for a full overview.
FamilySearch.org is a genealogy search engine that can help you trace your ancestry back a few generations. The search engine has filters that allow you to configure multi-event and multi-relationship searches. For example, run a reverse trace against the place of residence and use the advanced filters to find the movements of your ancestors.
Family Search is a free website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site contains records and details covering census data, birth and death certificates, parish counts, and military registrations, among other types of data.
Use the Family History Research Wiki for genealogy research tips and to find sources for record collections.
It is one of the most comprehensive resources on the web, collecting links to genealogy tools and research. You can only use this site to start your home history search. 189 categories with over 300,000 links is a lot of research to dive into. Each US state has its own links page, along with individual pages for the US county, Canadian province, and UK county.
The Stories of houses and buildings page could be your first port of call. Say thanks to Cyndi for this one woman show!
Forums still have a lot of power in the age of social media. Old House Web is a gathering place for old house enthusiasts, but their community forum packs a punch for discussions of all kinds (and not just old house remodeling!). Remember, remodelers often collect knick-knacks from dilapidated houses, so they too can be probed for clues.
Then there is the image forumwhere you can post a photo and identify it.
For those in the UK. Start your search for historic home records with the two sites below.
This online guide might be a good starting point if your home or ancestors are in the UK or Ireland. Jean Manco is a historian, so it’s fair to assume that she knows what she’s talking about.
The resources on the sites are arranged sequentially. The first step deals with basic research at the local library. Jean gives you plenty of external links if you want to immerse yourself in the history and heritage of old British houses and villages.
The National Archives is the official UK government archive, containing over 1,000 years of history. If you are tracing the history of your house, go to the help with your research section. Their Discovery search engine can help you access 32 million historical record descriptions in more than 2,500 archives across the country. Additionally, more than 9 million records are available to download and search by location.
Names may have changed so try different variations or check A-Z research guides. The Maps section has more than six million maps and plans from the 14th century to the present.
The National Archives links to sources such as Historical population reports online website to provide you with a complete set of tools for your home history search.
Various tips for researching the history of your home
Along with the resources above, you can also use these tips to find your home’s history.
- Visit the local library.
- Ask any old neighbor in the area.
- Use the Official Census of 1950 website (US only).
- subscribe to Newspapers.com and look for mentions in local news.
- Look at the municipal records.
Improve your house history search skills
I once tried to find out who built my house. It took nothing less than detective skills. Digging up your home’s background history can be a laborious search process, but it should be worth it because you’ll learn about a home and a bit about yourself.
The good news is that these few online resources are just the tip of the iceberg. You can also go online and find previous owners or long-lost neighbors. They might have an exciting story about the history of your place.