House history checklist

Every house has a history, even a newly built house.

Explore what resources can help in tracing the history of a house, and the land it's built on.

Focus on reason for search:

Is it for renovation, genealogy, biographical search, architectural history, or land use history?

Use one or all of the strategies below as appropriate.

Land title search: Lot on Plan number from Rates Notice

Not at State Library of Queensland.

Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy sells and provides documents and services at:

See Useful websites for family historians > Queensland > Department of Natural resources etc

Titles will name land owners, indicate mortgages over land, easements and further subdivisions

Examine the transfers closely: what story do they tell?

Titles do not provide details of the house but mortgages often provided funding for building a house.

Maps: Find the exact block of land in context

An estate map outlines information on an estate at the time it was advertised for sale. This could include a map of the estate with a local sketch which provides context for the area. Transport and facilities such as gas and electricity could be mentioned.

Estate maps, McKellar maps and other cadastral maps at State Library, Level 4

Estate maps: red folders adjacent to delivery area, Level 4 – organised by suburb

Estate maps online: Use suburb name and select options: 'maps' and 'SLQ digitised collections'

Estate maps on Historypin - browse by suburb, area or street and select a map ‘pin’ to get more information about the estate.

Note: Brisbane City Council (BCC) holds important records.

Guide to researching your house history with hyperlinks

See Useful websites for family historians > Queensland > Brisbane City Council

BCC records: 5/107-123 Muriel Ave, Skyline Business Centre, Moorooka carch@brisbane.qld.gov.au

Brisbane City Council Water and Sewerage Maps 1917, bound volume, open access, Level 4

Brisbane records include detail plans. They show the footprint of the house at the time the plans were recorded. They are the most likely source of house name.

Aerial Map/photograph of Brisbane

  • Qimagery contains the 1946 and 1951 aerial maps plus many others

Brisbane City Council, Landowners 1900 for Brisbane City and Suburbs 

  • Brisbane Images > Brisbane Historic Maps > Subdivision Plans > Brisbane Parish map showing landowners

Directories, electoral rolls and maps

Queensland Post Office Directories 1868-1949 Guide

  • Resident entries in Queensland Post Office Directories finish in 1939.
  • Note electoral rolls may be more useful in finding residents at a more exact address earlier. See electoral roll notes below.

Refidex/street directories of Brisbane: See also UBDs. Level 4

  • Use One Search, words "street directories" and limit to 'SLQ collections'.

Old directories digitised online:

Maps: CD-ROMs Family history desk Level 3

Renamed places in Queensland

Electoral rolls

  • Available online through Ancestry (Library Edition), use onsite at State Library. Using the right sidebar, click on 'Census and Voter lists', more. Then select 'Australia electoral rolls1903-1980'. Search broadly. Names appear at an address earlier and, in many cases, a more precise one, than in directories. All household members on the electoral roll are listed with their full names and occupations so there is more information to identify the right person or family.
  • See also Queensland electoral rolls on microfiche until January 2008. Available on Level 3.

Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying 

  • Curator, Kaye Nardella, (museum@dnrm.qld.gov.au). There are charges for research and documents.

Queensland State Archives

  • cadastral maps, pastoral run maps, and others.

Plans and Architectural Drawings: designing and building the house

John Oxley Library

Fryer Library (Uni. of Qld) 

  • Queensland overlay maps for architectural plans

Biographical details of architects

Queensland Parliamentary Papers for Annual Reports of Workers Dwelling Scheme or similar.

Websites such as House History include plans released by the State Advances Corporation, Redicut Homes, Campbell Brothers and other house pattern books.

See also items in John Oxley Library. Check One Search catalogue: Subject: Architecture, Domestic – Designs and Plans

Brisbane City Archives: Brisbane Images < Queensland Houses (includes plans)

Brisbane City Council Archives Building Registers: alphabetical by street – gives name of owners, and whether Worker’s Dwelling or State Advances Corporation was involved. Sometimes gives builder’s name. Annotations show if it is a new building or an addition.

  • Brisbane City Archives Register of Building Records – online 1903 – 1925 inner city, north of the river only; original Brisbane Council area. 
    Brisbane Images > Building records inc. detail plans > Building records 1903-September 1925
  • Brisbane City Archives Building Registers October 1925-1945
    Brisbane Images > Building records inc. detail plans > Building Registers October 1925-1945
    • Registers are missing for the years: 1939 (index only) and there are no extant records for the period Sept 1934-January 1936 and April-Dec 1937.
    • Entries are handwritten, chronological by address with owner’s name, cost, type of building and name of architect if any.
    • The landowner’s name is needed to confirm it’s the right building. See BCC online guidance at site.
    • The date in the register records is approval date so construction was soon after. Check for an index first.
  • Brisbane City Archives Building Register Indexes October 1925-1943
    Brisbane Images > Building records inc. detail plans > Building Register Indexes October 1925-1943
    Entries are generally arranged alphabetically by street name (except for 1942 which is by owner’s name) and include: owners name, and reference number to the entry in the main building register. This can then be tracked back to the main register.

Trove digitised newspapers:

  • Use for tenders, for house removals, for sale of land or house and land.
  • Search in Trove using terms like tenders, house removals, by name of owner or by portion number e.g. “525 Red Hill”
  • Refine by year and month to find tender advertisement.

House styles

Many councils also have guides for their area online. These include:

Photographs of the house

  • Trove pictures: includes images of homes, streets etc. from all state libraries, the National Library, council libraries and more
  • John Oxley Library photographs of suburbs, streets, residences: manual order at desk;  check One Search catalogue e.g. search “Photographs – Red Hill”, Location CPC (Copy Print Collections) can be ordered online.
  • Brisbane City Archives: Aerial photographs 1946, online 
    City Plan 2014 > Map Contents > Aerial on left hand side, then 1946
  • Brisbane City Archives: Queensland Homes Images and plans
    Brisbane Images > Queensland homes
  • 6169 Frank and Eunice Corley House Photographs ca. 1970: organised by suburb but photographs increasingly available online. Check One Search catalogue. Includes most suburbs of Brisbane and in surrounding areas of Ipswich, Redcliffe, Toowoomba, Stanthorpe, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Gympie, Hervey Bay, Kingaroy, Nambour, Caboolture, Landsborough and nearby. 1960s and 1970s.
  • Newspapers and magazines: Trove digitised newspapers
    • Australian Women’s WeeklyWeekend Home Supplements.
  • Card indexes: Level 4
  • Old subject catalogue: Level 4 - search by Brisbane-residence-house name e.g. Roslyn
  • Google street view: Note a few views over time are available since 2007. Open the image and click on street view to get the options.

The social and cultural dimension of life in the home

  • Check newspapers online via Trove.
  • Check State Library One Search catalogue for books, documents, stories and photographs of the families associated with the home and life of the times.

History of suburb, town or region

John Oxley Library, Level 4

  • Local history publications: suburb, town, region and local government area e.g. Ithaca.
  • Newspaper cuttings of towns, suburbs, cities in Queensland: manually order at des

Trove digitised newspapers 

  • search for suburban history;  
  • search for name of suburb or estate e.g. Graham Estate, Ashgrove

Document sources and search results

  • Prepare a checklist.
  • Note subdivision, portion and plan numbers.
  • Note where you have searched, list the source and the result.