I found a few great websites to share with you this week in an effort to provide more resources for finding the history of our homes and cities. I hope you find them useful!
Chicago Landmarks Tour 2010 This is a blog by a man who made a goal for 2010 to see all of the Chicago Landmarks. He takes readers on a tour of an area of Chicago and posts beautiful pictures of the area and architecture. I think I will have to visit some of the places he writes about this summer with my children.
City of Chicago Landmark List If you would like to see the entire list of Chicago Landmarks, check out this site. These are the places the above blogger is visiting. To view a PDF file of this list go here.
Chicago Architecture Foundation And finally if you live in Chicago and want more information about the history of our great city’s buildings, visit the CAF.
Now, unrelated to the home and city history sites above, I was reading Dr. Bill’s blog this morning and he posted a Follow Friday blog post that fits very well with the articles I have been writing the last week. If you have had problems finding family on Census records, please read Bayside Blog for a great article called Census Searching: Ancestor Not Home? Ask the Neighbors, on finding that elusive ancestor. If you haven’t started following or subscribing to Dr. Bill’s blog, you should! Thanks Dr. Bill for posting this article as a recommendation!
I recently wrote an article about tracing family through street addresses and am now interested in finding the history of some of those houses. While the PDF file mentioned here, Your House Has a History, is specific to Chicago research, some of the tips included can be used in any city.
This booklet is composed of six steps. Step One – Checking the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. Step Two – Finding a copy of the building permit filed when your house was constructed. Step Three – Research information on the construction of your house (and any additions), its architect (if known), and its builder. Step Four – Finding information on the previous owners of your house. Step Five – Finding early or original plans, drawings and photos of your house. Step Six – Your Neighborhood’s history. The end of the booklet contains an extensive list of resources to find records.
In our collection of old family photographs, there are probably a few of the homes in which our ancestors lived. Does that home still exist today? One way to find out is to go on Google Earth and enter the address. The program will pinpoint the address and you can zoom in to look at the area. Sometimes a street view is also available. If I enter 2122 W. 18th Place, Chicago, IL, Google Earth will take me to 18th Place and the closest address, which is next door. 2122 does not exist. It was a wooden home, as tall as the ones on either side of it, and is no longer there. Instead, an empty lot filled with grass and trees is where the home stood. The houses on either side of the lot are brick. It will be interesting to find out what happened to the house. Did it burn down? Was it purposely taken down?
What about your current collection of family photographs? Does it include the house where you parents grew up? Where you grew up? Do you have a photograph of the house as it looks today? We can never forget to continue to record our current family history.
For more information specific to Chicago you may visit the Chicago History Museum’s webpage on Architecture. http://www.chicagohs.org/research/resources/architecture
The Smithsonian has a great booklet online Finding History in your Home.
The Internet Public Library also has an extensive listing of resources on their Guide to Researching the History of your House page.
Have you traced the history of any homes? What interesting things did you discover?
I just read a marvelous article on a blog called “Personal Past”. The article is called Not How-to but Why-do? This article deals with a couple of big questions. Why do we research? How do we research based on why we research?
Why do I research? I research because I had to do a project near the end of college when finishing my History degree on my family tree. Included in this project was a paper on researching women in the family and the roles they held through the generations. When the project and paper were finished I was hooked. From that point on I wanted to research to tell the stories of my ancestors.
Researching family history is similar to being a detective. You find pieces of a puzzle and you have to figure out how to put it together and how to find the missing pieces. Putting pieces together gives me a sense of accomplishment when I finally solve a mystery.
I also strive to tell the stories of the people in my family who were doing great things when their life was cut short. Many of these people served in our armed forces and should be honored and remembered.
I love to find connections between my ancestors and my life. What things did they do that I do? What things did they do that I cannot fathom doing? What things did they do I wish I could do?
I want to know the whole truth and story. I dig into every source I can to find the truth, especially when the person whose story I want to know has passed away and cannot give me any answers.
One of my dreams it to be an author and write my family history and some of my ancestor’s full stories. My research is currently giving me that opportunity.
And finally, I think a major reason I research is to quench my thirst for knowledge on historical topics.
How does this affect how I research? I first try to find all the documents I can proving the existence of the person, their relationship to others in the family, and their life. I then delve into the history of the time period in which the person lived. This gives my person a fuller, more interesting story.
Why do you research?