House History Research Tips From the Virtual Conference

House History Research Tips From the Virtual Conference

One of last weekend's Family Tree University Virtual Conference live chats I was really interested in was Marian Pierre-Louis' house histories chat. Researching my great-great-grandfather's cigar store and home in Cincinnati is on my genealogy to-do list. In addition to hearing fascinating tales of participants' old family homes with kitchens...

One of last weekend’s Family Tree University Virtual Conference live chats I was really interested in was Marian Pierre-Louis‘ house histories chat. Researching my great-great-grandfather’s cigar store and home in Cincinnati is on my genealogy to-do list.

In addition to hearing fascinating tales of participants’ old family homes with kitchens constructed from peach crates, cheese packaging used for insulation and old newpapers as wallpaper, I got tips for researching the cigar store and other ancestral homes, such as my great-grandparents’:

And I smuggled some tips from the chat to share with you all! (The conference participants can download chat transcripts to keep.) Here they are:

  • If the house is relatively new, Marian suggests starting with deed research. “I’ve researched every house I’ve lived in, even one built in 1985,” she typed.
  • Start with the book and page number of the property deed in county or town records. Many areas have property assessor records online, where you can search by address. Then you’ll trace the deeds to find out names of the previous owners.
  • City directories are a great tool for house history research, especially for multifamily dwellings or those with with renters.
  • You can get a historical contractor to walk through your house and ‘read’ it. “That is your best shot for knowing when the various parts were built,” Marian suggests.
  • One participant asked whether it’s possible to research a house that’s been torn down. “Absolutely,” Marian replied. “The deeds and tax records never disappear (well unless there’s a fire in the courthouse or something).”

If you missed the Virtual Conference, the 15 video classes (see a few of them listed here) will be available soon at Family Tree Shop.

And if you’re particularly interested in house histories, we also have a digital download guide to researching houses in Family Tree Shop.

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  1. Hey Diane! Thanks for the shoutout! I hope your readers find the link useful.

    Marian put on a great presentation. The whole conference was amazing!

    Is it September yet? 🙂