Tracing your House History: A Guide for Family Historians

[amazon_link id=”1848842546″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]TRACING YOUR HOUSE HISTORY: A Guide For Family Historians[/amazon_link]

I was recently given a copy of this book to review and what a delight it was.

This book is more than a guide to researching the history of your house, or a house of interest. It is a font of interest if you are seeking to research and understand the social and domestic lives of people and their communities from early times.

The book is comprehensively laid out over seven chapters and gently walks readers and researchers through where to find information. It starts with indexes, catalogues and transcriptions before moving along to finding archives in Records Offices, local history libraries, heritage, local and family history organisations and numerous online resources.

The section on dating your home and house style is very comprehensive, starting with looking at architects and their role and then moving along to dating a building.

This nicely links into the third chapter which features architecture styles across the ages, commencing with Prehistoric through Norman, Medieval, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times. This chapter also looks at Modern homes, before discussing and providing resources for Model Villages, Garden Cities and Philanthropic Schemes, new towns and council housing. Also touched upon is the Public Health and slum clearances, why they were necessary and what gave rise to them in the first place, along with locating the redevelopment and clearance records.

The book progresses to the process of building local knowledge, by looking at local histories, the importance of oral histories, local tales & legends and the foundations they can provide in research. This is followed by two important areas; finding out about local history and the resources of societies and groups. Then there is a section that looks at the visuals of such a study; photographs and postcards, along with paintings and drawings which add illustrative social context to your study.

Chapter 5 is a very full and comprehensive chapter on resources. Many will be already known to family historians, such as Birth, Marriage and Death records, Parish records, and Census returns. Also included is Business and Occupation records, Directories and Gazetteers, Electoral Registers and Poll Books, Fire Insurance records and Glebe and Estate records. Various taxes are considered, such as Hearth, Window and Land taxes. There is also coverage of Land Registry, Deeds, Manorial records, Maps and Plans along with the National Farm Survey 1941-1943 which is an often neglected source in family history research, Quarter Session records, Land Owner returns 1873 – 1876, Valuation Office Survey 1910 – 1920 and lastly Wills. A real bonus for this chapter is the inclusion of the useful and comprehensive time frame for each resource.

The final two chapters deal with how you can present and write your own house history, but similarly this can apply should you be researching a One-Place Study. The book provides a directory of resources including Organisations, Websites and a selected Bibliography. There is an index at the end of the book.

Throughout the book, there are illustrations in black and white with links to numerous and various web pages.

This book has been thoroughly researched and presented. I believe it should be considered the book for those researching houses or a One-Place Study. It was a true delight to read and review.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


About Julie Goucher

Genealogist Julie Goucher sets to explore all aspects of researching ancestry and the lives of our ancestors in the United Kingdom in her monthly column for IDG, “Across the Pond.” Each month we will explore the lives of our forebears and seek to understand the Society they lived in through the obvious and not so obvious research opportunities. You can find Julie blogging at Anglers Rest:

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