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INTL 271 - Community Engaged Learning (Schiavone Camacho Spring 2022)

Historical Newspapers

Local Newspapers

Census Data

House and Building Resources

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 of 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 Indiana Room at Goshen Public Library has large black and white hard copies (also on microfilm) of Goshen Sanborn maps for the years 1886, 1892, 1896, 1901, 1905, 1910, 1917, and 1926.  Color images of 1886, 1892, 1896 are readily viewable online through the Library of Congress.  All maps (except 1926) are also available through the Indiana Spacial Data 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 Select a Quadrangle section.
  • Then click on the Goshen quad area of the map and scroll to the bottom of the page. You are looking for the Indiana Sanborn Historic Maps.
  • Open up the Public domain section and then the PDF section. The first image file (0001) for each map year is an index page. Download this page first to determine what page your house appears on. See screenshot below for more information.
  • Download the metadata file to access the keys to the maps (The two files you are looking for are the bw_index_key and the color_index_key. The colors of the buildings and the numbers on the buildings all have meanings!

City Directories

In order to create a timeline or overview of the businesses and individuals that have owned a particular property, you can use the city directories at the Goshen Public Library. This will need to be done in person and you will probably want to budget 2-3 hours per property. Additionally please contact the GPL reference desk in advance, since they may need to get the city directories out for you before you arrive.

Beginning in 1933 all the directories have properties listed by address as well as name so they could fairly easily track changes in business use. 

Start by looking at 5-year intervals. If there is a change from one to the next, step back year-by-year until you find the last year of Business A and the first year of Business B. 

Any property owner transfers should be trackable the same way that residential properties are--but, of course, since business properties are often leased, the owner may have changed less often than the business use.

With an outline of general transitions gleaned from city directories, you can perhaps identify some dates when there may be advertising or even articles about new businesses to enhance the detail. 

Thanks to Joe Springer, for providing these instructions.