by Barbara Rumsey
Many society visitors are interested in the history of their houses, but they need advice to discover where that history can be found. This 1994 monograph points the way to navigating county courthouse deeds, town tax records, maps, secondary sources such as local history books, and the value of longtime neighbors. Since land traditionally passed through family members until late in the 1800s, the need to understand the history of the family that owned the area of interest is also featured.
The monograph also warns of some pitfalls hidden in the research process—changing names of towns, lack of road names until late years, and changing ways of spelling the same first and surnames. What we see as the norm in the clear organization of people and places is a fairly modern invention. The age of street numbers and tax map and lot numbers can be measured in decades, not centuries.