House Research

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Helpful Hints for House Histories

By John Kovach

There are a number of places to check if you are looking for some history about your home. To find out who has lived in the home, you can use city and county directories. Start with the year you moved into the house and work backward in time. The Local History & Genealogy Room has South Bend directories from 1867 to the present. The Library also has some county directories, which may exist as their own books or may be part of some city directories.

Once you have some names of former residents, you can try to locate their obituaries by using our Obituary Index (help sheet). You might discover that one of those individuals built or first occupied your home. Our newspaper clippings files might contain some biographical information about your home's previous owners too.

You can also track how the shape of your house changed by finding it in the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (help sheet). The maps are available in the library or at home with a valid St. Joseph County Public Library card.

Another great resource for finding out more about the date and style of your home is a set of reports from the Historic Preservation Commission of South Bend and St. Joseph County. In particular, the 1993 City of South Bend Summary Report: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory has lots of information about local architectural styles, including lists and some pictures of historic homes and neighborhoods.

Of course, the Local History & Genealogy Room librarians have lots more tips to share with you when you come in for a visit!

Back to the Local History page

Last updated by: Libby Feil, May 3, 2006

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