House History Guide

Start by establishing a chain of title

Start by Establishing a Chain of Title

To do that you need to know the date your house or building was built.  It also helps to know who the various occupants were. You can use our House History Checklist to make sure you try all available resources. Fill in the House History Template to help you keep track of dates, former occupants and other information. If you don’t know the construction date or names of earlier occupants, the following sources can help you find the date by searching with your address.

    City directories and old phone books.
    Deeds or Abstracts of Title and other finding aids.
    Obituaries of former owners.
    Find the architect.
    Building permits. Houses built in Albuquerque between 1913 & 1937
    Bernalillo County Abstract and Title Collection

Next, List Former Owners and Occupants

Next, List Former Owners and Occupants

If you can’t find information about your own house try some houses nearby. It may tell you what you need. Your house may have been owned by someone who owned a neighboring house. Your subdivision’s history can tell you a lot. Put your house in the historical context (what was happening in your neighborhood, your town at the time?). Sometimes you can find the names of former owners in local newspaper archives (for New Mexico newspapers) by searching with your address.



Continue your Research by Following the Paper Trail

Continue Your Research by Following a Paper Trail

Before starting on the paper trail at the Court House, use a title search or abstract to speed things along. Deeds are the basic document to begin on the paper trail and will most likely be filed under the owner’s name. With the deed you can go back through consecutive owners of a property. Deeds, real estate contracts and mortgages can be found at the County Clerk’s Office, or if they were early settlers they may be filed in the State Records Center and Archives or national archives.

The deed will tell you who owned the house, how much it was bought for, a description of the house at the time and its mortgage (with more dates). It also might mention additions which help date the original building. Names will give you the information you need to look up mortgages and wills and other documents.

House History Checklist

Useful Tools for House History Researchers

Use this handy checklist to make sure you are using all the resources available to you. Some may be surprisingly useful! Print it out and start checking off the list.

House History Template

Print this template to help you keep track of dates, addresses, former owners, cohabitants and neighbors. It also helps you write a detailed description of your house.