Where did your ancestors live; where did they call home? What were the features of their dwelling? Learning more about the homes of our ancestors can help us to learn more about their daily lives and their values. Looking beyond the names and dates of genealogy research, a house history can add depth to a family history.
Resources on the Internet
The websites presented here are just a sampling of what can be found on the Internet to help you learn about your ancestors’ homes. Use these website examples as a guide to customize searches for your specific research goal.
Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records: This site has over two million records for federal land titles issued between the years 1820 and 1908.
The 1900 House: Take a tour of a 1900 house, courtesy of PBS
The Digital Archive of American Architecture: Photos of houses, churches, public, and commercial buildings from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries..
List of House Types: Wikipedia provides an extensive list of house types with links to further information.
House Styles: From This Old House, an annotated slide show of American house styles.
Old House Web: Explore the Architectural Housing Styles section for descriptions and photos of houses.
Analyzing Deeds for Useful Clues: A wonderful article by Elizabeth Shown Mills with much helpful information on using deeds for research.
House Histories: An online article by Kimberly Powell to help you trace the genealogy of your house.
Old House History: Read articles and tips on discovering the genealogy or architectural ancestry of your old house.
Research Questions to Consider
What were houses built of?
Who built the home? When was it built?
How many rooms were in their house?
Were there other buildings on the property, a barn or perhaps a garage?
Was the kitchen part of the main house?
Did the house have a basement? An attic?
Did the house have a front porch? Back porch?
Was the living room casual or formal?
Was there a fireplace? Did it have a wood or marble mantel?
Was there indoor plumbing? Did they have electricity?
How did the family get water?
How did they protect against the cold? Was the home heated?
In which room was the TV or radio? Did the family watch or listen together?
Did the children have their own bedroom or did they share?
Was there a flower or vegetable garden?
What types of furnishings were in the house?
What was the architectural style of the house?
Did the house sit close to the road, or was it set back a distance?
How close were the nearest neighbors?
Was there a fence in the yard?
Is the house still standing?
What changes has the house gone through through the years?