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Public History: Doing a House History: Step 8: Writing It Up

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

Writing It Up: Instructions for Completing the House History Assignment

To complete the assignment, you will write up your findings using the form for the nomination of a property into the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures.  You may download the form from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources web site (see first link in box to the left) or from the Moodle site.  Be sure to use the form for the Indiana Register, not the National Register!

You will notice that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources web page has a number of useful resources, and we expect that you will consult them. Be sure to look at the examples of successful nomination forms.

You will not be able to follow all of the guidelines -- for example, you might not have access to the interior of the house -- but be as complete as possible.  You are not required to submit your application to the Indiana DNR.

Helpful Hints:

(1) Historic Name:  Your house probably will not have a historic name, so you will have to give it a historic name.  Historic houses are often named for the original owners or inhabitants of the house.  However, if you determine that the most significant period for this structure came later, you may name the structure after later owners or residents.  If your home is historically significant as an apartment building, you may name it the "XXXX Apartment Building."

(2) Current / Other Name: Your house probably will not have a current name, either.  Leave this blank if there is no current name.

(3) Civil Township: The city of Goshen is in Elkhart Township (and the city of Elkhart is not in Elkhart Township!).

(4) Narrative Description:  Use the Indiana Department of Natural Resources: How to Organize an Architectural Description as a guide for writing the narrative description.  And this Architectural Description Guide created by the Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation is extremely useful in identifying and describing architectural features.

(5) Narrative Statement of Significance:  Your statement will focus primarily on the history of the house's owners and residents and will comprise the longest and most important part of the nomination form.  This is where you make a convincing argument about why this house matters.  An engaging narrative about the house will be more convincing to your reader than a list of seemingly unrelated facts.  Facts behind the story will come from the city directory, the census, the Sanborn maps, and other local history sources, but you will need to create the context for those facts and embed the facts into a "story" about the house.  It is important that you write clearly, concisely, and without spelling or grammar errors.  Be sure to proofread your statement before turning it in.  

Two tables must accompany your statement:  one listing all of the home's owners and dates of ownership in chronological order, and one listing all of the home's residents and their professions (if available) and dates of residence in chronological order.  Because the tables cannot be added to the DNR form, please submit them with your photograph attachment (see (8) below).  

(6) Bibliography:  Format your bibliography in Turabian style.

(7) Verbal Boundary Description:  Parcel Number and Legal Description from the Property Report Card.  You do not need any additional information.

(8) Photographs: Please submit your photographs as numbered, embedded images in a separate PDF file.  Descriptions of your photographs should include directions: e.g. Front Exterior (West side of house).  Please submit photographs that are 300 dpi or greater.  

(9) Additional Documentation:  Submit site and floor plans only, included in the PDF file with your tables of residents and owners and your photographs. You may use the site and floor plans from the Property Report Card.

(10) When you are finished with the DNR form, please save it as a PDF.

(11) Submit the two PDF files (DNR form and attachment of tables, photographs, and site / floor plans) through the course Moodle site.

This assignment is due at 2pm on Thursday, February 21.  Please upload your two PDFs to the Google drive, too, so that everybody in the class can see your work.  

Bring a paper copy of your assignment to class on Tuesday, March 5.