Before I investigated my house history, I had no concept of where to begin and was amazed by my Local Studies Librarian’s wealth of knowledge as she steered me to uncovering Barwon’s past.
Here, Ryde Library’s Local Studies and Family History Librarian Angela Phippen shares her insights into tracing house histories.
How can a local studies librarian assist people in tracing their house history?
Each local government area has different surviving records, for example, rate books, and so this will impact the assistance a librarian can give. Some records, such as Land Titles and Sands Directories are digitised, whereas the Local Council may hold others, for example, building application registers. Also consider the records held in your state’s Archives.
My top tips for researching a house history are to examine the Land Title records, and make a chronology of the buying and selling of the land. Other sources to examine include:
- Rate books
- Land valuations
- Sewerage diagrams
- Sands Directories (for NSW) or their equivalent in other states
- Electoral rolls
- Probate packages and deceased estate files (for NSW)
- Birth, death and marriage notices in newspapers
What are the most common questions people ask?
People are mostly interested in the age of their house and whether it has a name. The ease of discovering the age of a house can vary. Dating a nineteenth-century sandstone cottage is harder than, for instance, a twentieth-century house because the architecture and records of a twentieth-century house provide more information.
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