We have many resources for researching the history of your old house in San José and Santa Clara County.
Where To Look First
City Directories in the California Room
City directories are similar to telephone books. They list individuals along with their place of residence, occupation, spouse, and children 18+.
Haines Criss-Cross and Pacific Bell Reverse Directories
These directories are useful for finding who lived in your house after 1979, when San José City Directories ceased publication, and cover cities and unincorporated areas outside San José.
Historic Preservation, City of San José
San José Historic Resources Inventory, maps of historic districts, and lists of historic landmarks.
This inventory includes descriptions and photographs of historic landmarks and buildings. Editions may include maps, historic register, and index of architects, builders, and designers.
Visual Inventory of Historic/Archeological Sites in San José
From the early 1970s, this inventory is of noteworthy structures. Each structure may have an architectural and historical evaluation, owner or tenant interview, and photograph.
City of San José Building Permits
These City building permits 1940-1986 are on microfilm. Listed by street name and number, the permits include date issued, owner or developer name, and remodeling done during this time period. More recent information is at San José Permits Online.
Santa Clara County Tax Assessor Rolls
The California Room has tax rolls on microfilm back to 1979. They let you find who owns a piece of property in Santa Clara County.
Arts and Crafts Movement: Craftsman Style Bungalows
This website shows you how to identify a Craftsman home and architects who developed this style.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
Sanborn Maps show in great detail houses, lots, etc. The maps are also color coded to show type of construction.
Historical Atlas of Santa Clara County
Published in 1876, this atlas names large property owners in San José and Santa Clara County. This comprehensive atlas is useful in identifying landowners outside the 1876 San José city limits. The Atlas is also online at David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.
City of San José Block Book
Published in 1871 by H.H. Stevenson, this book gives dimensions and owners of blocks in San José.
Block Book of the City of San José
Published in 1909 and compiled by F.G. Harriman, this source gives owners, block numbers, and subdivisions.
Thomas Brothers' Block Book of San José
Published in the mid 1920s, this multivolume set gives dimensions and owners for all property lots in San José.
San José Property Maps
Dating back to the 1930s, this map series gives dimensions and owners for all property lots in San José.
Wall Maps for San José and Santa Clara County 1892-1924
Large roll-up maps give the names of major property owners. They are most useful for tracing property ownership in areas outside the San José City limits.
The California Room Map File has old street maps for San José and Santa Clara County. While not showing structures or land owners, they can help locate streets whose names have changed or streets which no longer exist.
Who Lived There?
Once you find who owned or lived in your old house, you may learn more about these people by checking the following sources.
California Room Index
This online index to 75,000+ references to San José and Santa Clara County history is the best place to start looking for information on people, particularly those active in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Great Register of Santa Clara County
The Great Register lists all males in Santa Clara County who were registered to vote. Information includes name, age, country or state of birth, occupation, local residence, etc. The California Room has the Great Register for 1867, 1879, 1880, 1884, 1890, and 1896.
About the Neighborhood
We have these resources for research on your neighborhood.
California Room Clipping File
Check the clipping file for newspaper articles on your neighborhood written over the last 20-30 years. Note: The Clipping File is indexed in the online California Room Index.
Books on Your Neighborhood
Find books and more on your neighborhood in the library’s collection