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Public History: Doing a House History: Step 3: Changes Since Construction?

This guide provides detailed instructions for the house history assignment.

Helpful House History Resources Online

What Changes Have Been Made to the House Since Its Construction?

As you know from living in a house, houses are frequently modified by their owners.  Remodeling, additions, construction fo out buildings, etc. can change the style and function of living spaces drastically.  Ideally, we would trace these changes through historical building permits.  However, in Elkhart County, building permits are not retained permanently.

We will instead look at Sanborn Maps to seek evidence of dramatic changes to the house you are researching.  The Goshen Public Library has copies of several Sanborn Maps, but the most comprehensive collection of maps is available through the Indiana Spacial Data Portal.  Goshen Sanborn maps are available for the years 1886, 1892, 1896, 1901, 1905, 1910, 1917, and 1926 through the portal.    

Tips for using the Indiana Spacial Data Portal Sanborn Maps:

  • The Single File Interface is easiest to use.  Choose the "Goshen Quad" from the dropdown list to select an image file.
  • The first image file for each map year is an index page.  Download this page first to determine what page your house appears on.
  • Download the metadata file to access the keys to the maps.  The colors of the buildings and the numbers on the buildings all have meanings!
  • You will have to get permission to access the 1926 map, which is not in the public domain.  Follow the instructions on the Sanborn map home page to get access to the 1926 map.