House History

Uncover the history of your home!
City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A1999-004Buildings last a long time.  Are you wondering who lived in your home in years gone by?  Are you curious about your house’s architectural style?  Do you wonder what your neighborhood looked like when it was newly constructed?  Have you noticed evidence of trolley car tracks, horse rings on the sidewalk, or neighborhood buildings that are clearly being used for something their designers never imagined?

Your house, apartment, store, or other building may have a rich and interesting past!  Reference librarians have gathered together a collection of resources to help you get started researching the history of your home or other building right here. 

We've got lots to offer you!  Learn more about using maps to help with your house history and neighborhood research, get some tips about how to tackle the difficult project of searching for an early photograph of your house,  get started researching who lived in your home before you, and learn about using old magazines to help you learn about your house.

Or take a look at this brief list of house history how-to books that you can use to learn more about house history research or get a sense for the different types of records that might exist for your house, or about houses in your city.

And remember, you don't have to do your research alone — friendly, knowledgeable librarians are ready to help you

We're also always glad to help you in person; just ask a librarian at one of the reference desks in the Humanities area on the third floor of Central Library. If you'd like in-depth assistance, please make an appointment through the library's Book a Librarian service. We'd love to help you research the history of your house or building.