Uncovering the History Behind Our Own Homes

Is your home historic? <em>The Atlantic Cities</em> challenges its readers to look at the history behind their own homes, providing a list of 10 things one can do to learn something new about the place we spend most of our time.
August 2, 2012, 5am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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Was your house a safe-house on the Underground Railroad, or a former President's childhood home, or was it designed by a famous architect? Perhaps not, but Emily Rose of The Atlantic Cities gives an easy-to-use list of ten potential starting points for those looking to unravel the past of their domestic space.

Some tips are as easy as just looking around your home. "You might find dates or stamps left by the builder; different-sized bricks will tell you that the house was built in different construction cycles," writes Rose. Scrounging around the backyard and the neighborhood might also turn up some interesting clues, from old glass bottles and children's toys to the size, layout, and alignment of your own home in relation to the rest of the neighborhood. The clues could tell you about what time period or for what purpose your home was constructed.

If you want to dig deeper, researching documentation could tell you even more. Census data, title deeds, and property records can tell you information like how many people were living there in 1950, the number of children, the cost of the home, and even if the home contained a radio; all very interesting stuff for history buffs. Rose points out that the answers to some of the questions above can be tracked down at your public library or local historical societies.

So why not give it a shot?

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Published on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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