The following links provide information about resources to research the history of your St. Louis City or County home.
House History Research Guidebooks
The Missouri History Museum Library holds copies of the following house history research guidebooks:
Historical Home Research in the City of St. Louis, by Edna Campos Gravenhorst (published in 2003)
Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(Room): Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home, by Kim Wolterman (published in 2009)
How to Research the History of Your Webster Groves House, by Ann Morris (published in 1980)
House History Article
For an example of methods and resources for researching the history of your house, see an article titled "How Well Do You Know Your Home?" in The Times of Skinker DeBaliviere (Volume 37, Number 3, Fall 2007, page 6).
Genealogy and Local History Index, Address Search
The Missouri History Museum's Genealogy and Local History Index is a good place to start your research. The Genealogy and Local History Index is an ever-growing index to selected published material, documents, and photographs at the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. Try a search for your address in the Address Search option. (Key in your street number in the top box, and your street name in the bottom box. For optimum searching, omit the street suffix [i.e., Ave., Blvd., St.] from your search.) Please note that this Address Search does not include references to every address in St. Louis City and County; rather it contains references to selected sources that have been indexed.
Search for your street address in Google
Try a search for your street address in Google and/or other Internet search engines. Many libraries and archives have digitized various books and other published sources from their collections, so you may find a reference to your street address in a Who's Who publication, a school alumni magazine, an article in a historic newspaper, etc.
St. Louis City and County Directories
Another great resource is city directories, which were published almost annually and are similar in format to telephone directories. The alphabetical entries in these directories include the resident's name, occupation and address. In some years these directories include a reverse directory feature that allows you to look up a street name alphabetically, then a street address numerically, and the directory provides the name of the individual, business or institution that was located at that address. By using reverse directories, you can determine who resided in your home in a particular year. Read more about city directories.
U.S. Federal Census
The U.S. federal census was taken every ten years, and is a valuable resource for finding out information about past residents of your home, assuming that your home dates back to 1940 or before. The most recent federal census that is accessible to the public is the 1940 census. Read more about the federal census.
Genealogy and Local History Index, Personal Name Search
Once you've determined the names of past residents of your home, try some searches for these names in the Missouri History Museum's Genealogy and Local History Index.
Genealogy Links Page
The Missouri History Museum's Genealogy Links page includes links to many databases and indexes that may help you learn more about the past residents of your home.
Newspapers are a great resource for house history research, including death notices and obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, real estate transactions, photographs of homes, local news, and more. However, the vast majority of historical newspapers are not digitized and keyword searchable. Below is information about several online databases that provide online, keyword-searchable access to selected St. Louis newspapers for selected years. Read more about newspapers.
Maps and Atlases
The Missouri History Museum Library holds a large number of St. Louis City and County maps and atlases. Of particular interest are fire insurance maps (which show the "footprint" of buildings and indicate brick, frame, or stone construction) and plat maps (which show the names of property owners). Read more about maps and atlases.
The Missouri History Museum Archives holds a collection of architectural drawings, some of which are for residences in St. Louis City and County. These drawings were donated to the archives by various architects or architectural firms. Please note that this collection consists of drawings of a small number of architects and architectural firms that chose to donate drawings to our archives.
There is no online index available to this collection of architectural drawings. If you would like to determine if we have a drawing(s) of a particular residence, contact the archives at 314-746-4510 or archives [at] mohistory [dot] org. Please provide the street address, the name of the original owner (if known), and the name of the architect (if known). If you know the name of the architect or architectural firm, this will allow us to search our collection more thoroughly.
Please note that in some cases reproduction of the drawings (by photography, scan, photocopy) may not be permitted, either because the drawings are too fragile or the donor has placed restrictions on reproducing the drawings.
Index to St. Louis Death Registers, 1850-1908
The St. Louis Genealogical Society's "St. Louis Death Registers" CD comprises an index to deaths recorded in St. Louis City and County for the years 1850-1908. Entries in this index include the decedent's name, date of death, age, place of burial, and oftentimes the street address where the death occurred. Searching for your street address in this index may help you determine the name of a former resident of your house. This CD is arranged in 24 alphabetical PDF files, so you'll need to search for your address in each of these files. The "St. Louis Death Registers" CD is available in the Special Collections Department at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters and at the St. Louis Genealogical Society. Be careful when searching: For example, the address 2405 North Taylor Street is recorded in this CD as 2405 N Taylor St. (not 2405 North Taylor or 2405 N. Taylor). Also, when searching for a street such as South 2nd, try S Second and S 2nd. Finally, omit the suffix (Ave., Drive, St.) in your searches.
St. Louis County Historic Buildings Inventory
If your St. Louis County home is historic, it may be listed in the St. Louis County Historic Buildings Inventory.
National Register of Historic Places
Is your house, street, or neighborhood historic? Nomination forms for the National Register of Historic Places are packed with data regarding historic houses, streets, and neighborhood. View nomination forms for St. Louis City and St. Louis County.