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How to Conduct  Research -  Where to Start
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Step-by-Step Research

There is no one way to find information about a property or a person.  The process of investigation and discovery is like a web - once you find one piece of information,  it is connected by delicate threads to other pieces of information.  After once using a source, you may later need to return to it for additional information.  Sometimes the facts you gather will dictate what you will need to do next.  Remember there are no right or wrong answers, this is a puzzle which requires patience and perseverance to decipher.  

Where to Start

The first place to start for a property is to discover who owns it.  This can be done at the tax assessor's office.  Records there will tell you who currently owns the property and when it was purchased.  Some records include previous owners as well.  Take note of all owners of the property and when the property changed hands.

Next stop is the Records Room in the County Clerk's Office.  Using the grantor/ grantee books, look up the deeds for the property in question.  Take note of the properties' boundaries (what's located around it;  are street names mentioned;  has the lot always been the same size),  any descriptions of what is on the  property (buildings, sheds, outhouses), and the price for which the lot was sold. 

Fill out your "Looking at a Deed" worksheet" as completely as you can.

  After your deed search, you can learn more about the people who lived at that property.  Consulting city directories, census records, newspapers and vertical files can aid in the reconstruction of a family's economic and social status in the community and thus their lifestyle.  Rather than tackling everything at once, choose a time period or an owner on which to focus, this should typically be the first family to live there.

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