Before beginning the process of discovery that will bring life to your ancestor the foundation must be laid. This starts with developing the framework of a plan including the choice of a family member who will be the focus individual and the location that is to be searched. While discovering the history of a dwelling, the information may touch on more than one life in the family, but your research should always return to the individual who is the focus of your search. Next, record all the background information beginning with the property street number and name. Locate the designated block and lot numbers which are generally found at the municipal or county clerk and often available online as well. Include the current town, county, and state keeping in mind that town and county lines may have changed over time. Part of your foundation investigation will include searching building records, studying and recording the physical aspects of the architecture and what you observe about its construction and possible alterations.
Once you have made a building choice and have your framework in place, a number of resource materials are available to begin constructing your ancestor’s life story including architectural books, municipal archives, online resources, local, county, and state libraries, building records, tax records, city directories, censuses, genealogy databases, architectural resources, and my favorite, newspapers. Organization is essential and knowing/discovering the area history as well as state, country, and world events will enhance your ancestor’s story and possibly dredge up additional questions that need to be explored.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Though there may be several dwellings and/or businesses in your ancestor’s past, as a general rule, each should be researched separately after which consideration should be given as to whether or not the history of the buildings should be woven together. Producing a cohesive story from what can amount to hundreds of pieces of information is an art which is a subject for another blog entry. Throughout future blog entries on this topic, specific steps and tips for how to search some of the individual resources, and breathe life into your ancestor through house histories, will be explained in more detail.