by Debra Spindle PhD, Research Coordinator-Librarian
Want to know more about your house? Here are some guidelines for researching your home in Oklahoma County. Some of the resources will be helpful for you even if your home is not here in central Oklahoma. It will depend on what records are available for your county.
Use the Oklahoma County Assessor’s site to track the ownership of your home. This website is at www.oklahomacounty.org/assessor. You can search by name or address. When you have located the entry for your home, be sure to note the subdivision name and the legal description, including the block and lot number. This site will also provide you with the names of the previous owners, but may be incomplete. State and Local Government on the Web at www.statelocalgov.net will guide you to online government records for other jurisdictions.
Use the subdivision name and the legal description to search for information on your house at the County Clerk’s website at www.oklahomacounty.org/coclerk/. This site will provide legal history of your home.
Look up the address or former owners in City Directories. City Directories have more information than a telephone directory – in addition to the name of the person, you will find their spouse, address, their profession or work position, and in some cases, in the back portion of the directory, the neighbors and whether they owned the home. The Research Center has City Directories for many cities and towns in Oklahoma. You can find a list of directory holdings at www.okhistory.org/research/library/directories.html.
Sanborn Maps are large scale maps produced by the Sanborn Map Company of Pelham, New York. Designed to aid fire insurance company’s assessment of properties, these maps are useful for tracking changes in cities and towns. The Research Center has over 3000 Sanborn Maps for a number of towns in Oklahoma. Additional information about the Research Center’s map collections can be found at www.okhistory.org/research/collections/maps.html. Many public libraries, including the Metropolitan Library System, have a subscription to Sanborn Maps for Oklahoma that can be accessed with your library card.
Another good Oklahoma City resource is the interactive map of downtown Oklahoma City at www.okhistory.org/research/hillerman. Shown are street and aerial views from the late 1920s to the 1960s.
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) also offers numerous sources of information including architectural surveys, archeological surveys, details about the National Register of Historic Places, the Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory and more. Visit http://okhistory.org/shpo/shpom.htm for more info.
The newspaper is also a great place to find information on the neighborhood in which your house is located. For example, when Crestwood opened in the 1920s, there were multiple ads for many of the homes including line drawings and descriptions. Searching the newspaper for the name of your subdivision may yield information as well.
Use the digital archives of the Oklahoman to search for information on the persons who lived at your address – remember to search by address as well as by name. In some time periods, the names of numbered streets will need to be spelled out (e.g., twelfth) as will the directions (e.g., northwest rather than nw). Try a variety of searches to retrieve this information. This may turn up marriage licenses, divorces, birth announcements, social events, crimes, and a variety of events that occurred at your address.
After you have identified the names of some of the persons who lived in your home, you may wish to search the Research Center’s catalogs for materials about those persons or photographs of them. Remember to search for the name of the subdivision as well. Browse Books of photos held by the History Center are also available for your perusal at the Research Center. Researching the Remember to work back and forth between the names and addresses you collect and the city directories and newspapers for information about the persons who owned your home.
The Internet Public Library has a terrific guide to Researching
the History of a House at www.ipl.org/div/pdf/entry/76687. They have links to “how to” websites as well as online collections of records and maps. They also recommend this helpful book:
Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood
by Betsy J. Green
Santa Monica Press (May 2002)
Be sure to check with your local library. They may have a local history section that has materials specific to your area. These can include city directories, newspapers, and clippings files. Look in the catalog for materials on your neighborhood
as well as the city or area.
A printable PDF of this information is available at: www.okhistory.org/research/forms/househistoryguide.pdf