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House History: A Guide to Uncovering the Stories of Local Buildings and Properties


Local news items in the The Estancia News (Estancia, Torrance County, N.M.) mention citizens building houses in the community. 21 December 1906. Library of Congress Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Newspapers provide one of the best ways to learn the story of your house and its inhabitants.

Search for your address, street, town, or county, as well as for the specific people who were past residents:

  • Look in social columns for events at your house and the visitors who stopped by;
  • Find out if your street was located along parade routes or if it was a popular thoroughfare;
  • You may even find announcements about the property being purchased or the house being constructed.

By reading articles about the families and individuals who lived in your house or on your property over the years, you will add further context to the history your home has witnessed. For example, items that may seem personal, such as a marriage announcement, may let you know that the bridal procession marched down your staircase; describe decorations, furnishings, and arrangement of rooms; or list interesting guests.


The Library of Congress provides free access to Chronicling America, which is a word-searchable collection of historic newspapers. You can search this database to lookup area newspapers and search for articles related to your community and the people who lived in your house.

If the newspapers for your area have not been digitized yet, use the Directory of U.S. Newspapers to see which repositories house the archives.

Access further resources about available publications through the Library of Congress Newspapers and Periodicals Division.

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are restricted and only available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.