Researching the History of Your House

Many patrons, especially those with older homes, are interested in the history of their house. Following is some information which may be helpful for those searching for the history of their homes in the Holland area.  

City Directories

Herrick has Holland/Zeeland City Directories available beginning in 1894. From 1894 until 1921, the directories list residents alphabetically by name only, but beginning in 1921 there is a list of names and also of streets and house numbers. These directories can tell you who was living in the house in a specific year.


The Holland City News (1872-1977) and the Holland Sentinel (1912-present) are available on microfilm at the library. However, there is only a partial index available which was compiled by a local historian, and houses are not generally indexed, so newspapers are most helpful if you have a specific date you are searching. The Holland City News is digitized and is available online through Hope College Digital Commons.

Plat Maps

These maps document ownership of property. They are available for Ottawa and Allegan Counties (and some other Michigan counties)  beginning in the mid 1800s. 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Maps that were created for insurance companies who wanted detailed information about buildings for insurance purposes. Herrick has the following years on microfilm for Holland: 1883, 1889, 1893, 1896, 1902, 1908, 1916, 1925.



Assessor’s Office

Construction date, legal description, sketches of lot and plan, recent photographs, recent sales, building permits. Construction dates are not always accurate but provide good starting point.

Holland Museum

For older records you can check the Holland Museum for tax records for Holland City and Holland Township. There are also some records for Port Sheldon Township. You should bring a legal description of your property which is on your title or mortgage. A legal description might begin “Lot 21, Ex N 8 Ft Thereof …”.  The years covered are approximately 1867-1994, however this list is not inclusive, so it is possible that not all of these years are available. 

The Holland Museum also has Multiple Listing Service Cards from real estate offices for some of the houses that were sold in the Holland area from approximately 1965-1982. These cards list detailed information about the houses including the selling price, and many of these cards contain photos of the houses. 

Register of Deeds

Check the Ottawa County Register of Deeds for searches in Ottawa County for 1946 or later. For searches in Ottawa County before 1946 contact the Ottawa County Courthouse in Grand Haven. Allegan County also has a Register of Deeds.

Sometimes property tax information is helpful when searching for house history. For Allegan County tax information before 1960, contact the Allegan County Treasurer's Office. For information before 1960, contact the Zhang Collection Center and Regional History in Kalamazoo.

In most cases the Register of Deeds will not be able to tell you exactly when a house was built.

Additional Websites

  • Died in House This website was launched in June, 2013. It claims to answer whether someone died at a certain home or apartment, who died, when they died, and the cause of death. (Paid service, not endorsed by Herrick District Library)
  • Cyndi's List has a page dedicated to House & Building histories. It also has links to businesses that provide research services. Scroll down to the ‘H’, choose House & Building Histories.