House History Research

Holland is filled with historic homes. Many with rich, hidden histories. Finding those stories can be a fun scavenger hunt. HDL has resources to help you.


The best place to start researching the history of your home is the Holland/Zeeland City Directories, which begin in 1984 and continue into the 2000’s. Search for your house’s address to discover previous residents. In early years, directories also provided the resident’s place of work.


HDL has a small collection of historic plat maps and Sanborn fire Insurance maps that can help you see property lines throughout history. Some of these are only available in microfilm, but a librarian can teach you how to use the microfilm reader, if you need assistance.

Local Archives

Other local collections with house history include the Holland Museum and the Joint Archives of Hope College. Both of these archives are located downtown Holland. You will need to make a reservation to see archival items.

Register of Deeds

The Register of Deeds can also be useful in finding out who historically owned property. Here is where you can locate records in your county.

Ottawa County

Ottawa County Register of Deeds

12220 Filmore Street

West Olive, MI 49460


Allegan County

Archives – Allegan County Register of Deeds

113 Chestnut Street

Allegan, MI 49010


Assessor’s Office

The Assessor’s Office is another great way to find out more about the history of a house. Try searching BS&A Online. You will first need to search for your municipality before entering an address.

Census Records

If you know the names of former residents at your address, you can also look up previous census records. These records can tell you the names of everyone in the household.

Census records via Ancestry Library Edition (accessible on HDL property only) 


If you know who lived in your house, you could also try looking for articles about them in the Holland Sentinel. Try doing a name search in HDL’s Holland Sentinel index or on the Joint Archives of Hope College’s Van Reken Index. Please note, these newspaper indexes are not complete, but they are a great way to start.

HDL also has microfilm for old issues of the Holland Sentinel (1912-2020), Holland City News (1872-1977), Ottawa County Times (1892-1905), and the Allegan Journal 1856-1892).


Here are a few more resources to help you better understand your house:

Discovering the History of your House and your Neighborhood

How to Research your House

Land & Property Research in the United States

A Field Guide to American Houses