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Researching House and Building Histories

While engaged in research concerning a dwelling or other type of building, the following resources can be used to progressively build upon the total pieces of information known, and allow one resource to take you to another to continue the search. The order of the resources on this page isn't strict, but moving from the top of the list down will be a good general strategy.

If a section title is hyperlinked it will bring you to information about the organization or record set; if the first bullet is hyperlinked it will take you to the database or index to search (if such a resource is available).

A "Database" will have have information available about records as well as the records themselves. An "Index" will only have information about the records, but not the records themselves, and will provide information on how to access resources in another way.

Please feel free to print or download a copy of the House and Building Research Form to record your findings as you progress.

TLCPL Architecture Collections

  • Type of resource? Digital Index
  • Why use it? To discover if architectural drawings, renderings, or documentation exist in the Library's collections for the particular building being researched
  • How can it be searched? Address, commission number, commissioner of the project. This index is only available to Local History and Genealogy librarians and to find out if the building exists in the index, please contact the Library directly
  • Anything else to know? You can contact the Library by filling out the form on the Contact Us page, send an email directly to digitization@toledolibrary.org or by calling 419.259.5233 to get help in determining if the Library has records that can assist your search

Lucas County Auditor's Office

  • Access the Resource: AREIS (Auditor's Real Estate Information System)
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? To gain basic building information including previous property owners, building attributes such as building square footage, taxes assessed, aerial photographs, property/neighborhood maps, zoning information, transfers of property ownership and more
  • How can it be searched? Address, owner, parcel number, assessor number, and by browsing a county map
  • Anything else to know? While doing research on buildings we at the Library question some dates in AREIS, particularly dates for when buildings were constructed. It is recommended you try and confirm building construction dates with a separate source

Block Cards in Ohio Memory

  • Access the Resource: Toledo Lucas County Public Library Auditor's Images
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? The Lucas County Auditor donated historical photo collections used for tax assessment to the Library which have now been digitized and made available online. These photographs can provide images of buildings from the 1930s to 1960s and show how structures have changed over time, or show now demolished buildings
  • How can it be searched? Keyword and address
  • Anything else to know? This was an early digitization project, and photo quality is not always the best. Block card images can be re-scanned upon request but the original photographs are small (about 1 inch by 1.5 inches) and thus the level of detail available is ultimately limited

Aperture Cards

  • Access the Resource: Aperture Card Spreadsheet
  • Type of Resource? Digital Index
  • Why use it? To discover architectural drawings and blueprints for buildings in Toledo from the 1970s to the 1990s.
  • How can it be searched? Year and address
  • Anything else to know? These are small slides of blueprints and architectural drawings and as such can only really be viewed using the microfilm machines in the Local History and Genealogy department, or by scanning them and checking the images. We are happy to scan Aperture Cards by request and offer ten scans per quarter (January - March, April - June, etc.) though after ten scans, there is a small fee. The spreadsheet includes the number of cards available for a given address. You can see an example of an aperture card scanned both as a photograph and as film in this image. The list is in alphabetical order by street primarily, and then in order by address number secondarily.

Lucas County Recorders Office

  • Access the Resource: Online Recordings
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? To get information on owners names, dates of purchase, and dates of sale, as well as deeds that can provide additional information
  • How can it be searched? Name of property owner, name of organization, and limited by date ranges
  • Anything else to know? This database interface is not the most friendly to use. Be prepared to be patient and call the Recorder's Office if you need help navigating their records, (330) 928-5311

National Register of Historic Places

  • Access the Resource: National Register Database and Research
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? For deep information on historically significant buildings. Historic inventory forms can provide building histories, architectural information, building locations, maps, photographs, and information on who originally submitted the building for inclusion on the Register. Contacting this submitter, if still available, may open up more research avenues
  • How can it be searched? The site itself has a primer on research strategies, but generally these can be searched by state and keyword
  • Anything else to know? If you are looking to do larger scale research on a geographic area for instance, the information contained in the database can be downloaded as a raw data set as well

Ohio Historic Inventory Forms

  • Type of resource? Card Index
  • Why use it? For deep information on historically significant buildings. Historic inventory forms can provide building histories, architectural information, building locations, maps, photographs, and information on who originally submitted the building for inclusion on the Register. Contacting this submitter, if still available, may open up more research avenues
  • How can it be searched? Address
  • Anything else to know? This card index and its related resources will need to be used in-person in the Local History and Genealogy department at Main Library

TLCPL Obituary Index

  • Access the Resource: Obituary Index
  • Type of resource? Digital Index
  • Why use it? Can provide more information on owners and residents of buildings, including birth and death dates, as well as biographical information to deepen information gained from the County Auditor or Recorder
  • How can it be searched? Name, year of death, and address
  • Anything else to know? Don't fill out all known data points in the search interface; generally starting with just last name, and first name or initial is a good search strategy with this index. If you are physically at the Local History and Genealogy department at Main Library then the index will let you know which roll of microfilm to use to find the obituary. You can also request obituaries to be scanned and emailed to you within a few business days; this service is free for Ohio residents, and $3 per obituary for out-of-state residents

Toledo City Directories

  • Access the Resource: Polk's Toledo city directory
  • Type of resource? Digital Index
  • Why use it? To connect names to addresses or vice versa in order to widen search information, as well as information on churches, organizations, and companies
  • How can it be searched? Name and address
  • Anything else to know? These materials will need to be used in-person in the Local History and Genealogy department at Main Library. The directories are available in different physical formats depending on the date needed. Directories from 1858 to 1935 are available on microfilm. From 1936 to the present directories are available as books. All directories will have alphabetical listings of names and businesses. From 1910 to the present, directories also index streets and addresses alphabetically; if you know an address, you can then look up the resident or business at the location. Early directories (1800s) will list churches, organizations, and companies that may include names as well

Ancestry Library Edition

  • Access the Resource: Ancestry Library Edition
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? Ancestry provides a wide variety of record sets and collections, including records on births, marriages, deaths, censuses, city directories, and more
  • How can it be searched? Keyword, date, name, location
  • Anything else to know? Ancestry Library Edition is only available to be used inside Library locations, otherwise a paid subscription to the service is needed to use from home. This is a means of looking up city directory information digitally as opposed to using physical resources
  • *PLEASE NOTE* This resources has temporarily been opened to make it available from anywhere so long as you login through the Library's website using your library card number and PIN

HeritageQuest Online

  • Access the Resource: HeritageQuest Online
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? HeritageQuest provides a more limited amount of record sets (as compared to Ancestry) but still has access to census records, city directories, and family histories. This is a great way to find information in city directories when not at a Library location
  • How can it be searched? Keyword, date, name, location
  • Anything else to know? Importantly, HeritageQuest can be used anywhere (not just in Library locations) so long as you have a Toledo Lucas County Public Library card. This is a means of looking up city directory information digitally as opposed to using physical resources

FamilySearch

  • Access the Resource: FamilySearch
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? FamilySearch provides a more limited amount of record sets (as compared to Ancestry) but still has access to Toledo and Lucas County birth records, 1868-1908, Lucas County marriage records, 1835-1951, Ohio death certificates, 1908-1953, and Toledo and Lucas County death records, 1858-1908. This is a great way to find information in city directories when not at a Library location
  • How can it be searched? Keyword, date, name, location
  • Anything else to know? Importantly, FamilySearch can be used anywhere (not just in Library locations) so long as you register an account with the website. The database does not charge any money, though some records may only be available at a Family History Center

Hubbell's Blue Books in Ohio Memory

  • Access the Resource: Hubbell's Blue Books
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? To connect names to addresses or vice versa in order to widen search information, as well as providing information on school attendance and social club membership
  • How can it be searched? Keyword, name, and address
  • Anything else to know? These directories span a time frame of 1888 to 1910

Digital Collections Comprehensive Search

  • Access the Resource: Search Across Digital Collections
  • Type of resource? Digital Database
  • Why use it? This is a federated, comprehensive search across all resources digitized by the library, all digital exhibits, and all materials added to the Internet Archive. This is a broadly scoped search
  • How can it be searched? Keyword
  • Anything else to know? Try a variety of search terms, if a specific address doesn't come back for instance, fewer search terms might result in something. 231 Huron Street for instance brings back no photographs of the building, but Huron Street brings back a photo of the 200 Block of Huron Street which includes 231

Digital Collections Comprehensive Map

  • Access the Resource: Browse Collections by Location
  • Type of resource? Data Visualization
  • Why use it? This is a geographic data visualization that returns all materials in our Digital Collections and Community Photo Album that have GPS coordinates embedded in their metadata
  • How can it be searched? Browsed visually
  • Anything else to know? The map contained in Architecture of Northwest Ohio only holds records of architectural drawings, however this data visualization brings together all of our resources in one map allowing you to see if there might also be images or other resources of a location being researched and see what resources we have that were in physical proximity to the research subject

Maps and Atlases Index

  • Access the Resource: Architecture of Northwest Ohio - Maps and Altlases
  • Type of resource? Digital Index
  • Why use it? Many maps and atlases available will show building footprints and property lines allowing you get a better sense for the building and to match architectural drawings to
  • How can it be searched? Browsed visually
  • Anything else to know? Some of the resources have been digitized by the Library and made available through Ohio Memory. The collection of digitized Sanborn fire insurance maps is made available through the Ohio Web Library and needs to be accessed through our Research page. Physical resources haven't been scanned and need to be used in the Local History and Genealogy department at Main Library

TLCPL Name Index

  • Type of resource? Card Index
  • Why use it? Can provide more information on owners and residents of buildings, such as biographical information to deepen information gained from the County Auditor or Recorder
  • How can it be searched? Last name
  • Anything else to know? This card index and its related resources will need to be used in-person in the Local History and Genealogy department at Main Library. Information here will point to other physical resources in the Local History and Genealogy department, such as books, scrapbooks, photo collections, manuscript collections and more

TLCPL Books and More

  • Access the Resource: TLCPL Catalog
  • Type of resource? Digital Index
  • Why use it? For deeper background research. Magazines can provide information on decorating and design, books can provide information on architectural styles, home design, and history
  • How can it be searched? Keyword, title, author, and subject as well as limiting searches by year and item format (eg. book, magazine, DVD, etc.)
  • Anything else to know? If you find a resource that looks helpful, click on one of the subject headings to find all related items with the same heading. If you find a resource that has a location containing "Local History" then the item will need to be used in the Local History and Genealogy department at Main Library, as these items do not circulate

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