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Field Guide to Researching a Home's History

(Updated February 2013)

Ever wonder who lived in your home before you? Would you know how to find out? If your home is a landmark or if it housed a famous resident you may already know its history. Others require more effort and research. This field guide will get you started and also provide information on architectural styles of homes in the United States. (R. Carlson, Information Specialist)


Useful Documents for Researching a Home's History

  • Courthouse deeds and records
  • Mortgages, wills, and probate records
  • Tax records
  • Town and county histories
  • City directories
  • Insurance maps

Source: Finding the history in your home, (OldHouseWeb.com).


How to Research Your Home

How to Research Your Home’s Past, (Old House Journal, n.d.).

10 Ways to Research Your Home’s History, (PreservationNation Blog, July 31, 2012).

Tracing the Genealogy of Your Home or Other Building, (About.com).

Researching Your Own Home, (Clarke Historical Library).

House Detective: Finding History in Your Home, (Saturday Evening Post, Dec. 24, 2009).

How to research the history of a house, (New Jersey Historic Preservation Office, Apr. 2009).

How to research the history of your house, (WikiHow.com).

How to research your house, (Save Our Heritage Organization).


Architectural Styles

Home Style Guide, (About.com).

Home Styles: A Guide to Residential Architecture, (HGTV).

Explore by Architectural Style, (U.S. General Services Administration).

Historic Buildings, (Historicbldgs.com).

Victorian architecture, (Victoria Station).

Classic home collection, (Architecture Week).

Architecture quiz, (REALTOR® Magazine Online).

Painted ladies, (Wikipedia.org).


Buying & Selling Older Homes

The Impact of Age on the Value of Historic Homes in a Nationally Recognized Historic District, (The Appraisal Journal, Fall 2011). Q

Special Considerations for Staging Historic Homes, (Activerain.com).

Obsessively Seeking Original Occupant, (New York Times, May 5, 2010).

What the Walls Would Say, (New York Times, Apr. 28, 2010).


Related Websites

Historic Preservation Organizations, (Old Houses.com)—National and State resources

National Trust for Historic Preservation

How to preserve your historic home, (National Trust for Historic Preservation).

Preservation Directory, (Preservation Directory.com)—Historic preservation online resource

That's my old house, (Thats My Old House.com)—Every house has a story


eBooks & Other Resources

eBooks.realtor.org

The following ebooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader (Adobe eBook)

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Historic Properties

InfoCentral Blog


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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.