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Public History: Doing a House History: Step 4: Legal Property Description

This guide provides detailed instructions for the house history assignment.

Helpful House History Resources Online

Indiana Department of Natural Resources:  National & State Registers - Application Process
The nomination form to be used in this assignment is the first form in the Application process or can be downloaded at this link.

National Register Bulletin:  Researching a Historic Property

Indiana Landmarks

Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD)
Search for information on properties registered in state and national registers of historic places.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Preservation Directory

Step 4: Finding the Legal Property Description of the House

It is important that you understand the structure of most legal property descriptions in the United States.  This Wikipedia article on the Public Land Survey System provides a helpful introduction.  Pay particular attention to the definitions of ranges, sections, and townships.  

Traditionally, plat maps are used to determine the legal property descriptions.  We are going to use current property tax information accessible online to correlate the house's address to its legal property description.  

Today, many counties provide online GIS-based property data, often accessible without charge. Key data for your further research will be your property's "Parcel Number" and "Legal Discription." The property information online may also include other helpful information (date of construction, dimensions of house, external features).  As of 2018, much of Elkhart County's online property data is behind a paywall.  Therefore, library personnel will provide a copy of the data available online for your property.