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History of Your House

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While trying to find the history of a residence can be very difficult there are some things you can do at the Los Angeles Public library to start such a search.

  1. Get legal description and parcel number of property at L.A. County Assessor in the Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple Room, 225, or by using their online Property Assessment Information System
  2. Find original construction date on building permit at Los Angeles City Building and Safety Department - Construction Services Center, 201 N. Figueroa 4 th floor.
    (888) LA4-BUILD
  3. Building permit may give name of Contractor, Architect, and original owner. If there is no building permit contact the Los Angeles County Assessor to find year of construction and name of original owner.
  4. Records of grant deeds can be used to trace the ownership history of a property. In Los Angeles County, official deed records are maintained by the Land Records Division of the County Clerk's Office in Norwalk (562) 462-2133.
  5. For properties located in the City of Los Angeles, the current owner, tract and lot number, date of last change in ownership, year built, number of units, etc. may be obtained using the Land Use Planning and Management Subsystem (LUPAMS), available in the Business & Economics Department at Central Library. Additionally, the Business Department has LUPAMS records available on microfiche dating back to 1991. (213) 228-7100.
  6. When the owner's name has been obtained, try searching local newspapers for death notices or in rare cases, an obituary. The California Death Index is available in the History & Genealogy Department for 1905-1994, and selected years are available online through Rootsweb. You may also search county probate records at LA County Hall of Records, Room 212.
  7. Check the LAPL History Department's California Index for names and neighborhoods associated with property.
  8. Sanborn Atlases and Maps in History department may show original structure. These are available online with a LAPL library card.
  9. Street Names of Los Angeles by Bernice Kimball at the History Department reference desk may clarify street name changes.
  10. Local historical societies often provide direction and sometimes undertake the searches for a fee. The Los Angeles Conservancy provides a detailed list of research suggestions and local resources for property tracing in Los Angeles.
  11. Los Angeles City Directories (early years 1900-1905 have reverse directories) can verify addresses and residents. Selected Los Angeles city directories have been digitized and are available through the LAPL website
  12. Some U.S. Census records for the late 1800s and early 1900s will identify residents at an address. Census records may be accessed using Ancestry Library Edition, which is available at the Central Library and all branches, or HeritageQuest Online, which is available at Central Library, all branches, and at home with a valid LAPL library card.
  13. Check for owners names in Los Angeles Times Historical database
  14. For questions or projects that are too complex or time-consuming a list of available researchers is available in the History Department at Central Library.