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Posted - 06-08-2018

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5 Resources for Tracing Property History

The resources listed here may contain evidence regarding the existence of a building but will not necessarily date the original structure or subsequent alterations. Remember that houses could be rebuilt often on an adjoining site but using the same name or subsequent buildings on the same site were renamed or renumbered.

1 Maps
Home to the largest cartographic collection in Wales and one of the largest in Britain, the Library has a wide range of maps and plans to consult – Ordnance Survey maps, antiquarian maps, estate maps and sale catalogues and architectural drawings, tithe maps and apportionments. Digital images of the tithe maps and apportionments and more modern maps can be found on the Places of Wales website and most are available to search through the catalogue  or on open access in the South Reading Room.

2 Census Returns and the 1939 Register
The Census taken every 10 years since 1841, except 1941, gives a snapshot of who was at a property at the time of the census. The 1911 census is the latest available; the 1939 Register can also be very useful as this provided information of inhabitants of properties at the beginning of WWII. Access to these are available free of charge within the Library through Findmypast and Ancestry.

3 Estate Records
A property may be easier to trace if it was part of an estate as records were drawn up for the administration of the estate – rentals, surveys, title deeds, mortgages, leases. To find if the Library holds any information a search of the catalogue should be made.

4 Printed works
Local history books, local directories, guide books and electoral registers that date back to the nineteenth century will give further clues of who lived in particular properties and used in conjunction with other documentary evidence can give you more information about the people who lived in a property. These can be found by searching our catalogue

5 Newspapers
The Library has a digitised collection of Welsh newspapers available free to view online up to 1919, there may well be mention of the occupants of or the history of a property amongst the pages as well as adverts and details of sales of property. To begin your search visit the website

These are only a few of the sources available to aid you in the search for the history of a house. For more information have a look at our information leaflet Sources for the History of Houses

Beryl Evans
Research Services Manager

This post is also available in: Welsh

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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