History of Your Home

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Did you ever wonder about the people who used to live in your house? Some of your fellow Guilford County residents are doing research to learn more about the histories of their homes.

Come to the reference desk on the second floor of the Central Library, where the staff will guide you to the materials you need.

You’ll start with the city directories, going back as far as 1879/80. Start at the present and work back, looking under your address to see who is listed in each directory as the resident of your home. Sometimes the person’s spouse and employment are also listed. If you live in the county, use the suburban directory, which covers from 1966 to the present. The cross-reference directory includes the entire county, including Greensboro and High Point, from 1959 to the present.

The North Carolina Collection also has books with pictures and descriptions of historic houses, art books showing some prominent homes from the early part of the 20th century, and resources for finding biographical information about people who lived in the houses. At least two people have used Robert L. Phillips’ book Medical Shoulders during the 19th and 20th Centuries in Greensboro, North Carolina to find biographical sketches of physicians who lived in their homes in years past. Find this book in our catalog. Other helpful resources are Greensboro histories, church histories, clipping and pamphlet files, high school and college yearbooks, newspaper indexes, census records, and the National Register of Historic Places file.

A useful book is Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood by Betsy J. Green (NC 907.2 G79). It gives tips for learning facts about your home, from the architect’s name to the original price to information about the families who once lived there. This readable book is available in the NC Collection (where the copy will always be in the library), and there is also a circulating copy. Find this book in our catalog.

Our “House History” file near the reference desk includes a detailed list of sources you can use and a handout prepared by Anne Stringfield of the Fisher Park Neighborhood Association. The handout will be helpful in exploring resources of the Tax Department, the Register of Deeds Office and the Greensboro History Museum, as well as those at the library.