Property profiles provide in-depth details about a home and its surroundings, such as sales comparables, zoning information, school data, etc.
Are you intrigued by lesser-known historical facts? From Ota Benga’s human zoo exhibit to how people used to wake up without alarm clocks, these intriguing pieces of history will open your eyes!
History of the Home
House histories can tell us much about who lived within them, known as social genealogy research. Similar to traditional family tree analysis, this form of investigation explores those who called a particular house home instead.
Many clues to a property’s past can be easily seen, such as architectural styles, wallpaper from other eras and signs of renovation or remodeling projects. To uncover more subtle traces, try searching old census records which may offer information about previous residents including their names, birth states, ages, occupations and more.
Cyndi’s List and Old House Web are among many online resources offering communities dedicated to researching historical property records. These communities can serve as invaluable sources of information for homeowners.
History of the Neighborhood
Local and state historical societies can provide invaluable information about a neighborhood’s past. Furthermore, they may be able to refer you to specialists such as historians who have written books on its history or conducted historical research in that location.
Real estate professionals can also serve as invaluable sources of neighborhood information. If a home’s current owners have lived there for an extended period, they might share anecdotes and memories about life there.
Patterns in a neighborhood’s architecture can reveal much about its history. A neighborhood developed quickly may contain many identical buildings; while those developed gradually may contain different house styles. One such organization, Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group, specializes in this upper West Side area between 96th and 110th streets near Central Park; they maintain a website detailing this history with maps.
History of the City
An understanding of a city’s past provides a window into its life over time. To gain more insight, check out local libraries, historical societies and preservation organizations for information about former residents. Newspapers may also provide vital clues, with announcements such as marriages or funerals providing insight into your neighbors.
Lewis Mumford’s 1961 work, The City in History, remains an essential resource for urban historians. Written with an accessible florid style that gives his work an organic feel and describes how cities develop over time, it delves into topics such as how people acquired water before plumbing systems and human waste disposal was managed, while also exploring attitudes over time regarding things such as lighting levels or privacy requirements for homes.
History of the County
Discovering a county’s past can be exciting! Discover general narratives, detailed accounts and historic images or maps that provide context.
Many families migrated to the area because of employment opportunities, religious ties or seeking refuge from slavery and oppression. Within the county itself, staunch Abolitionists offered safe houses on the Underground Railroad while dedicated Suffragists campaigned for women’s equality rights.
If you love history, consider listening to The History of Home by Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation fame. It provides an incredible exploration of notable houses like Hearst Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate seen on Downton Abbey as well as Highclere castle portrayed by Downton Abbey and Louisa May Alcott’s childhood home – an author who wrote Little Women!
History of the State
This nonfiction history podcast takes listeners inside the homes of famous Americans to understand how their lives fit into American history. Recent episodes include Louisa May Alcott and her sisters’ home where they wrote Little Women. Another episode explores Horace Cayton and Susie Revels Cayton’s residence; these two ran the longest-running Black newspaper at the turn of the century in Seattle.
Flanders takes an in-depth look at domestic life and houses across 500 years, showing how what we consider home today only bears a fleeting resemblance to what people actually lived with in the past. Additionally, the book disproves many household myths such as when curtains first began being used and what happened with waste materials.