Knowing who once lived in your family’s home before you did will provide you with a sense of the home’s history. Even though you will more than likely meet the people who sold the home to you, knowing the families that have lived there before may be difficult, especially if your home is quite old. Discovering the previous tenants of your home can take some time.
Contact your country registrar’s office. With every house transaction, the previous tenants would have had to file the deed within the county. The deed history can be found at the county office or an office by the name of “recorder of deeds.” If you look up the past deeds, it will provide you with the names of the past owners. In some cases, these will more than likely be the people who would have lived in your home. However, the owners could have rented the home out to past tenants as well.
Search the street or city directory. These old directories can be located in your local library or in the archives of your city or county department. This will provide you with listings of people who have lived in your area, and it also receives an upgrade every year. In the street directory, you will be able to find some information on people who lived in your house. It will also provide you with the renters who were not found on the deed search. However, it will be unlikely that the directory will list the resident’s children.
Now that you have the names of the previous tenants, you can search for them in the census data. This census can be found in the state archives or the national archives departments. If your area has a historian, ask them to help you with the information that you need.
If you know your community well enough, you may be able to find out further information from the elderly residents in your area. Talking to elderly residents will provide you with information that the directories or historians cannot. They would also be able to tell you what type of people they were as opposed to what the census information tells you.
If you are interested in knowing more information, continue your research. You may be able to find out more by reading some of the local history books or some of the biographies of the people who have lived in your area. These local books may provide you with photographs of the people who lived there, plus some stories about the previous owners and tenants of your current home. Discussing further options with the local librarian will provide you with the direction that you need in order to find the answers that you are looking for.