House & Property Research Tips
Below are listed resources pertinent to property research in the Santa Clara Valley.
- San Jose City and vicinity Directories (1870-1979)
- Haines Criss-Cross Directories and Pacific Bell Reverse Directories
- City of San José Building Permits
- Santa Clara County Tax Assessor Rolls
- Abstracts of title: records of the title history of a property or other significant asset, including transfers, liens, and legal actions that are connected to the property
Deeds, wills, surveys, planning photographs, and other property records are available through the Santa Clara County Clerk Recorder's Office and the County Archives. Additional permits can be found at City of San Jose Online Permits.
Santa Clara County Heritage Resource Inventory – This inventory was published by the Santa Clara County Historical Commission in 1975 and 1979. Each edition lists historic landmarks and buildings by community with brief descriptions and black and white photographs for a few. The 1975 edition includes archeological sites and maps. The 1979 edition lists historic register designations and has an index of architects/builders/designers.
Historic Resources Survey Downtown San José Year 2000 – This survey funded by the City of San José examined all the properties in the downtown core area for historic significance. Those properties deemed historic are listed in this volume accompanied by their historic evaluation worksheet.
City of San José Historic Resources Evaluation Sheets – This three-binder set contains all the Historic Evaluation Sheets collected by the San José Planning Department for properties in San José over the last 25 years. The odds are small, but if someone has already done an historic evaluation of your property it will save you much time and effort.
Visual Inventory of Historic & Archeological Sites in San José – Compiled in the early 1970s by a group of local historians and architects who walked the older neighborhoods of San José looking for noteworthy structures. Each structure chosen was given an architectural and historical evaluation. Brief notes were taken and the owner/tenant was interviewed if possible. A photograph was also taken. The California Room has a copy of this five volume survey. The original resides at History San José; the visual inventory is on site in the California Room.
Maps and Aerials
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
- 1876 Historical Atlas of Santa Clara County
- City of San José Block Books
- Brainard Atlas of Santa Clara County
- City, street, state, county, and subdivision maps
Additional maps, aerials and street level photographs may be found in:
- History San Jose, Sourisseau Academy
- City of San Jose Planning Division
- Santa Clara County Archives
- Office of the County Surveyor
Other records may be obtained from the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office, Santa Clara County Planning Department, and the City of San Jose Building Department.
Also of use in property research may be:
- United States Geological Survey Earth Explorer
- Hornbeck Collection of Historical Land Use in California
- David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
- California Land Surveyors Association
See also: Santa Clara County History Organizations