How do I research the history of my house?

The New Jersey Historic Preservation Office has a brief guide on How to Research the History of a House (PDF).

The following are questions to keep in mind when researching the history of your property/structure:

  • What is the name of the structure?
  • What is the location and address of the property?
  • What is the date it was built?
  • Who were the architect, designer and supplier of material for the structure?
  • What alterations and additions (with dates, name of architect, builder, etc.) have been made to the house?
  • What is the name of the original owner and of all subsequent owners?
  • What additions to, or sale of, the property were made by the owners?
  • What historical events and/or persons are associated with the structure?


The following list of primary (archival and original) and secondary sources of documentation will assist in your property history search:

  • Architectural/Construction Drawings
  • Building permits, block and lot numbers
  • Census Records (Federal and New Jersey)
  • Deeds (names of owners, dates of ownership)
  • Estate Records/Wills
  • Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
  • Historic Resource Surveys and 
    • Bergen County Historic Sites Survey
    • Bergen County Stonehouse Survey
    • Mahwah Township Cragmere Survey
  • Interview former owners and older neighbors
  • Local, municipal, and/or county histories
  • Maps and Aerial Photographs
  • Newspapers and books
  • Plot Boods (volumes of large-scale maps showing plots and buildings on each block)
  • Registers of Historic Places
    • National Register of Historic Places
    • New Jersey Register of Historic Places
  • Real Estate listings
  • Tax Appraisal Records (Municipal)

Show All Answers

1. What Township ordinance established the Historic Preservation Commission?
2. How do I know if my home or other structure is "historic" and qualifies to be placed on the Township ordinance as an "historic landmark"?
3. If I want to protect my historic house, what do I need to do?
4. How do I research the history of my house?
5. What documentation do I need to prove that my house is historic?
6. What resources are available?
7. If I list my property/structure on the Historic Element of the Municipal Code as an historic site, does that mean that I cannot change anything in/on it?
8. Why should I place my home on the Historic Element of the Township Code?
9. Is there any tax incentive or financial benefit to listing my house on the ordinance?