Friday, November 21, 2008

"Every house has a story..."

An article titled "She's at home with history" by Rachel Lebeaux was published in The Boston Globe newspaper today about Marian Pierre-Louis, a genealogist who researches house histories in Massachusetts.

Marian's advice for doing this is pretty typical for any genealogy task:

Pierre-Louis gives lectures on compiling house histories, and said it's a process anybody could undertake.

"Finding the information is like a mystery, and the discovery of it is kind of cool," she said. "If I can get more people to research the histories of their own houses, that preserves more history."

The first step, she said, is to research the house's property records, and noted that the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has information online. Next, consult census records with the names on the deeds, using online services such as or HeritageQuestOnline.

Then, "get local," Pierre-Louis said. Go to the town hall or library and consult tax records, which can reveal the size of the land tract, how many buildings were on it, whether the property housed animals, and the property's changing value over time.

Finally, "if you have the opportunity, go to the local cemetery," she said.

Pretty good advice for everyone! Read the article - it's great to see genealogists in the news.

Hmmm, I have several houses in Westminster and Leominster to search the history of. I guess I'll have to "get local" like Marian recommends sooner rather than later!

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