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BGSU University Libraries

CAC Class Webpages: Property Research

First Steps

  • Select a piece of property
  • Go to the County Recorder's Office to get the legal description of the property
  • Using Deed Records, compile a list of the owners. Remember to record the dates! Remember to get all the previous owners.
  • For Wood County properties, use the Geographical Index

Where to Research the History of Your Property

  • Local Archives, Library & Historical Society
  • County Courthouse
  • Municipal Offices
  • Corporate & Institutional Records
  • Center for Archival Collections
  • Private Collections
  • External Resources

Private Collections

  • Personal Papers/Manuscripts
  • Letters/Diaries
  • Photographs/Postcards
  • Scrapbooks/Albums
  • Family Bible Records
  • Interviews and Oral Histories
  • Architectural Drawings
  • Title Abstracts

Municipal Offices

Buildings & Inspections

  • Building Permits
  • Building Cards
  • Demolition Permits

Engineering Office

  • Maps
  • Aerial Photographs

Water Works

  • Water & Sewer Tap Records

Clerk's Office

  • Ordinances
  • City Bulletins

Local Archives, Library & Historical Society

Secondary Sources

  • City & County Histories
  • Corporate Histories

Pictorial Collections

  • Postcards
  • Photographs
  • Prints


Other Sources

  • City Directories/Gazetteers
  • Newspapers
  • Builders and Trade Catalogs
  • Architectural Drawings
  • Manuscript Collections
  • Oral Histories
  • Tax Duplicates
  • Deed Indexes
  • Cemetery Records

Census Records

The CAC holds Population Schedules for all of Ohio (1820-1930) and Agriculture and Manufacturing Schedules for northwest Ohio counties for 1870-1880. Population Schedules may list all members of the household, their ages, occupations, relationships, and place of birth; Agriculture and Manufacturing Schedules give information about crops grown and products made.

  • Population
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing

Corporate and Institutional Records


  • Dedication Pamphlets
  • Marriage Records
  • Baptismal Records
  • Account Books
  • Church Bulletins


  • Written Histories
  • Maps
  • Ledgers, Account Books
  • Photographs
  • Interviews
  • Annual Reports


Get Your Bearings: Study Maps and Atlases

Learn how land is surveyed


 Use the Geographical Index at the Wood County Recorder's Office to find the legal description (In this case, the property is Plain Township, Inlot 3222, 3223, 3224, 3225) and a list of owners.

  • If the property was once part of a larger parcel, trace the ownership of the larger parcel back to the earliest owners.

Locate the property on a series of maps to note changes over time

  • Locate the property in an Atlas. Compare several atlases to see any changes.
  • Look for changes in land, ownership, and the nearby area
  • Look for natural features (rivers, swamp areas) which affect access to the property, availability of water, etc.
  • Look for man-made features (railroads, roads, cemeteries, quarries) which affect transportation of people and goods or influence movement or business.

Read history of the general area

  • City and county histories often begin with a description of the geology and geography of the area and include information about places of special interest.
  • Atlases sometimes have brief histories, biographies of landowners, and statistical information about agriculture or manufacturing.
  • See Bibliography of Selected Resources

Learn about the people: Gather biographical information about the property owners

Printed sources include city and county histories and newspaper obituaries

Obituary of James V. Owen

Other sources include the Federal Census

  • Note family relationships and occupations
  • Note changes over time
  • Census Indexes found at assistance from Reference Staff

Still other sources for information

  • Probate Court records include information about wills, marriages, births
  • City and county directories give names, addresses, and occupations of people

Learn about the Property


Government Records

  • At left is the 1924 Reappraisement for one portion of this property. Be sure to locate all parcels of the property in question. The Reappraisement record gives a valuation of the land and buildings for tax purposes and describes the construction and age of any buildings.

Other government records which may be sources for information

  • Reappraisement records 1943 (county)
  • Tax records (county)
  • Oil & Gas records (county)
  • Water and sewer records (city)

Search the property through time in City or County Directories

Questions to ask:

  • Does the owner use the property as his personal residence?
  • Does the owner use the property as his business?
  • Does the owner use the property for income? (e.g., rental housing)
  • What happens to a business as the ownership changes?
  • What changes are apparent in the neighborhood of the property?

Still other sources of information

  • Photographs and postcards
  • Search appropriate topics in the online catalog. (See "Industrial Development of Bowling Green," pOG 0271)
  • Search newspapers (including BG News) for articles on business
  • Search BGSU General Catalog for information on class pictured at left

Special Tips

  • Not every source is appropriate for every property.
  • Some information may not have been recorded, or may have become lost. But-- are you looking in the right place? Other sources may provide the "missing" information.
  • Consider national as well as local events as they affect your property:
    • Farming practices may be documented from general history sources
    • Economic conditions affect land use (Depressions occurred many times during the last 150 years--did they affect your property?)
    • Industrial development affects even "rural" areas. Consider the gas and oil boom. Did it affect your property?
    • Political events can affect land use. What national policies were adopted during wartime which may have affected farming and industry?



County Courthouse

Auditor's Office/Board of Equalization

  • Plat Books
  • Assessor's Cards
  • Tax Duplicate Records
  • Industrial Appraisal Records
  • Reappraisements
  • Oil and Gas Returns


  • Plat Maps
  • Deed Records
  • Geographical Index
  • Mechanic's Lien Records
  • Mortgage Records

Clerk of Courts

  • Common Pleas Court Records

Probate Court

  • Will Records
  • Vital Records: Births, Marriages, Deaths
  • Estate Records


  • Aerial Photographs
  • Ditch & Road Survey Records
  • Survey Records


  • Commissioners' Journals
  • Building Cards
  • Building Permits
  • Building Plans