top of page
Books.magnifying glass.jpg

Researching your home's history.

Investigating the history of your home.

The first place to start would be at the local library - Hamilton East Public Library. 

 Visit the Crossroads Discovery Center   [formerly the Indiana Room]

Also helpful is to visit the Library of Congress site and look at their collection of Sanborn fire maps. 

About this Collection at the Library of Congress:

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist provides a searchable database of the fire insurance maps published by the Sanborn Map Company housed in the collections of the Geography and Map Division. The online checklist is based upon the Library's 1981 publication Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress and will be continually updated to reflect new acquisitions.

Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress. 1981

The Sanborn maps are arranged by state, then city and release data. The online checklist also contains links to existing digital images from our collection and will be updated as new images are added.

Sanborn Keys & Colors

Fire insurance maps are distinctive because of the sophisticated set of symbols that allows complex information to be conveyed clearly. In working with insurance maps, it is important to remember that they were made for a very specific use, and that although they are now valuable for a variety of purposes, the insurance industry dictated the selection of information to be mapped and the way that information was portrayed. Knowledge of the keys and colors is essential to proper interpretation of the information found in fire insurance maps.

Baist Atlases, also produced for fire insurance purposes, include similar maps drawn on a smaller scale. Consult a local library or the Indiana State Library for original or microfilm copies. Check Indiana Memory for digitized maps.

If there has already been research on your home in the past, it may be helpful to visit Indiana DNR SHAARD site. Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD) and Indiana Historic Buildings, Bridges, and Cemeteries (IHBBC) Map

Visit Indiana Landmarks site for more assistance.


Consulting City Directories

City directories are an easy source to consult for the names of a home’s occupants (as opposed to owners), as well as approximate construction dates. These directories typically also give the principal resident’s occupation. Published for cities of various sizes, the directories were inaugurated in some towns as early as 1855.

If you have completed a chain of title, compare the names on the title to the city directories. From 1914 forward, most Indiana city directories contain an index by street address as well as occupant’s name. If you don’t know the names, research in pre-1914 directories becomes a tedious hunt through column after column of names as you search for your address. However, online, digitized versions can save you time if they allow you to search for names and addresses.

Examining Census Data

Beginning in 1850, census records include the names and number of people living in a house. In addition to revealing where inhabitants were born, their race, sex, age, and marital status, later records sometimes tell their occupations. Your local library or historical society may have census records, and many are available online free of charge or through subscription services such as The Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library has several helpful links related to census records including a list of those available online.

This file contains many helpful links:

PDF From Hamilton East Public library

Local help may be found at the: 

  • Noblesville Library - Discovery Center 

  • Noblesville Preservation Alliance [there may be an option for paid research]

An appointment may be necessary 

How to list your home or property as a Historic Property 

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

The National Register nomination process usually starts with your state historic site. 

Indiana DNR Historic Preservation

Application forms for Historic Site in Indiana

How are Properties Evaluated?

To be considered eligible, a property must meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This involves examining the property’s age, significance, and integrity.

Age and Integrity: Is the property old enough to be considered historic (generally at least 50 years old) and does it still look much the way it did in the past?

Significance: Is the property associated with events, activities, or developments that were important in the past? With the lives of people who were important in the past? With significant architectural history, landscape history, or engineering achievements? Does it have the potential to yield information through archeological investigation about our past?

National Register Listing Process

Nominations can be submitted to your SHPO from property owners, historical societies, preservation organizations, governmental agencies, and other individuals or groups. Official National Register Nomination Forms are downloadable or from your State Historic Preservation Office. National Register Bulletins can also provide guidance on how to document and evaluate certain types of properties. Sample Nominations provide additional useful information.

  • The SHPO notifies affected property owners and local governments and solicits public comment. If the owner (or a majority of owners for a district nomination) objects, the property cannot be listed but may be forwarded to the National Park Service for a Determination of Eligibility (DOE).

  • Proposed nominations are reviewed by your state’s historic preservation office and the state’s National Register Review Board. The length of the state process varies but will take a minimum of 90 days.

  • Complete nominations, with certifying recommendations, are submitted by the state to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service makes a listing decision within 45 days.

Local Help - Noblesville Preservation Alliance

An appointment may be necessary to meet with them.

  • Facebook
bottom of page