Researching the History of your House
Here are the steps to go through to find the history of your house or building at the Library.
Buildings, Places and Landmarks Index
The first place to start at the library is this card catalogue index that has been maintained by librarians for more than 40 years. Look up an address and find out if that house or building has a City of London heritage designation or has been mentioned in some key resources, including:
- Annual Geranium Heritage House Tour booklets
- Local newspapers and magazines
- Local architectural books
If it has been mentioned, we will then help you find that article or book at the library. This index can also searched online at the Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections.
Register of Cultural Heritage Resources for London
Created by the City, this book lists over 5,900 houses and buildings with their construction date, architectural style and rank by heritage value.
Vernon's City Directories
Published annually, city directories are a fantastic place to start to discover which businesses were in your building or who lived in your house. Search by address to find out the name of the occupant. Then look up that name in the personal names section to find their occupation. Microfilm: 1856-1980. Paper: 1981-2013. Vernon Directories Limited of Hamilton published the London city directory from 1907 until the final edition in 2013. The directories also included Middlesex County for the following years: 1864-65, 1868-69, 1871-72, 1875, 1880-81, 1881-82, 1883, 1886-1925. Directories for 1872-73, 1875, 1881-82, 1883, 1886-1929 include a street index at the beginning of the directory. From 1930 to 2013, the street index appears after the personal name index.
Fire Insurance Plans
These city maps, produced approximately every 10 years, show the property lines, outlines of buildings and are colour-coded to indicate the building materials used. You may even find out the number of stories and location of doors and windows. Microfilm: 1881 - 1970. Paper: 1892, 1912, 1958.
Fire insurance plans for the city of London - 1881(revised 1888), 1892 (revised 1907) and 1912 (revised 1915, 1922) - are also available online and in paper form at the Map and Data Centre located in the basement of the D.B. Weldon Library at Western University. There are also over 900 fire insurance plans housed in the Western Archives.
A large collection of neighbourhood and city maps including annexation maps.
Created by the municipality. Look up an address in the assessment rolls to find the name of the occupant, their occupation, a description of the property and its assessed value. Microfilm: 1905-1930. Paper: 1895, 1910, 1916, 1927, 1939, 1953, 1959, 1966. Microfiche: 1984, 1986, 1990.
Building Permit Index
The London Room has a short run of these permits from 1908 to 1926 on microfilm. The index lists the date of the permit, owner’s name, builder’s name, address of the house, nearest cross street, purpose of the permit and its value. The index is arranged by street name and then by date of the permit.
Area Clippings File
These paper files contain clippings from the London Free Press on various neighbourhoods in London from the 1950's to 1993.
Our catalogue has listings of books about the history of various London buildings.
The London Room has print photographs of Londoners, buildings, houses and streetscenes. Ask at the Reference Desk for staff assistance. Some of these photographs may also be viewed online on the Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections.
Who Lived in Your House?
Here are the steps to finding out more about the people who lived in your house in the past or ran a business in your place of business.
Published annually, City Directories are a fantastic place to start for finding out which businesses were in your building or who lived in your house. Look up by address will tell you the name of the occupant then look up that name in the personal names section to find their occupation. Microfilm 1856-1980; paper - 1981-2013. The final edition of the city directory was 2013.
London Room Card Indexes
These catalogue card indexes have been created by librarians over the years. Search by name to find out whether they have been mentioned in a book, local newspaper or magazine. Then we can help you find that book or article. These indexes can also be searched online at the Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections.
Published Local Histories
Local histories include many stories and mentions of residents at the time.
- Hamilton Road
- Westminster Township
- London Township
- General London Histories
Goodspeed's History of Middlesex County
Published in 1889, this book has over 300 pages of individual and family histories indexed by surname.
Censuses were taken every ten years starting in 1851. The most recent census to be released is that of 1921. Census returns place families in a specific geographical location at a specific time. You can also see how families changed over time as they grew and aged. The main facts gleaned from the census returns include names, ages, family relationships, birthplace, marital status, religion and occupation.
Canadian County Atlas Digital Project
Between 1874 and 1881, 32 atlases covering 40 counties in Ontario were published. For the rural areas, the name of the landowner is marked on the map. This resource allows you to view these historical atlases and is searchable by name, county, township, town, birthplace or occupation.
Books about the history of various London individuals and families.
The London Room has printed photographs of Londoners, buildings, houses and streetscenes. Ask at the Reference Desk for staff assistance. Some of these photographs may also be viewed online on the Ivey Family London Room Digitial Collections.
Neighbourhood Associations often have members who have lived in the area for many years and may have memories of the property you are researching.
The organizations listed below have amazing resources for the history of your house.