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Researching a House History

A Guide to Tracing Your Ridgewood House

Click here for a print-out of this research guide.

Locating the House in Time and Space

  • Check the Ridgewood Historic Sites Survey (HERITAGE REF 974.922 HIS)

    • Find your address on the Historic Sites Survey map

    • If it is in a district or has a number, note it and look it up in the book.  If it is a district or streetscape, also read about the neighborhood at the beginning of the section.

  • Check current Tax Assessment Records (Please note that dates of construction may not be accurate, however you can get dates of the most recent transfers of the property)

    • Go to the Village website to get the year purchased, year built, size of lot, owner for last 3 years, and assessed value.

    • Go to the NJ Association of Tax Boards website and click on Record Search in the top row.  This will provide the same information, but you can switch views to Deed/Sr1a List to get the most recent deed transactions, including book, page, date, price grantor, and grantee

  • Check the maps in the HERITAGE ARCHIVES collection (Requires appointment with the Local History Librarian):  The maps can provide different information such as a footprint of the house, homeowner, dimensions or lot outlines.

    • 1916, 1925, 1928 and 1930 (updated in the 1940s) Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

    • 1925 tax map

    • 1913 tax map

    • 1912/13 Bromley Atlas

    • 1908 tax map

    • 1902 Robinson Map

    • 1876 atlas (HERITAGE REF 917.4921 WAL)

    • 1861 Corey Hopkins map (displayed on wall)

    • Online Sanborn maps (1896, 1901, 1906, 1911 with limited coverage of the Village)

    • Aerial Maps of New Jersey:  Atlas or Aerials


Identify Past Residents

  • Use Directories to check for past residents​

    • ​You can search Ridgewood city directories on microfilm for the following years:  1897, 1904-1914, 1926-1973.  You can find the pre-1930 house number on the 1930 Sanborn map available at the Bolger Heritage Center

    • You can also search through some later phonebooks, available by appointment.

  • Find past owners by doing a deed search at the courthouse in Hackensack.  The records are available for use by the general public to conduct their own searches.​

    • ​The Searching Vault contains over 300 years of land recordings.  The deed records begin in 1785 and the mortgage records begin in 1765. 

    • Some records are computerized and some are only available by use of the deed books, but all must be accessed on site.  The records cannot be searched by property location, but are listed by grantor and grantee, for which there are indexes.

    • Copying is 5 cents per page; maps are $3.


What Were Residents' Lives Like?

  • Find past residents in the Federal Census:  This is indexed by name and is available on Ancestry Library Edition (accessible in the Heritage Center & Ridgewood Public Library).  Federal censuses were taken every 10 years and the ones publicly available for New Jersey are 1830-1940 (except 1890).

  • Search newspaper databases for articles

  • Find obituaries

    • Identify the date of death by using the directories, Social Security Death Index, or search papers like the NYT

    • Local newspapers collections are available on microfilm and e-edtion at the Library.  For a complete list click here

  • Examine wills of people who died while they owned the house.  19th century wills are especially interesting

    • New Jersey Index of wills, prior to 1901 HERITAGE REF 929.3749

    • Probate records at familysearch.org (these are not indexed)

    • Abstracts of wills HERITAGE REF 929.3749 ARCHIVES

  • Interview neighbors and past owners (or their descendants) to gather memories, documents and photographs



  • Schedule an appointment to look at the Heritage Archives Be Ri 7

  • Look through the published Ridgewood history books HERITAGE REF 974.922

  • Schedule an appointment to look at the 1919 Ridgewood Herald Supplement

  • Search the Heritage CATalog

  • Ask the past residents or their descendants


Identify the Architectural Style of Your House

  • The Architecture of Bergen County, New Jersey, by T. Robins Brown 720.9749 BRO or HERITAGE REF 720.9749 BRO

  • Building by the Book: Pattern-Book Architecture in New Jersey, by Robert P. Guter & Janet W. Foster HERITAGE REF 728.37 GUT

  • Country and Suburban Home of the Prairie School Period, by Hermann Valentine Von Holst 728.022 VON

  • Craftsman Homes: Architecture and Furnishings of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, by Gustav Stickley 728.373 CRA or 728.373 STI

  • A Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia & Lee McAlester 728.37 M114 or HERITAGE REF 728.37 MCA

  • Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company 728.373 STE

  • The New Jersey House, by Helen Schwartz HERITAGE REF 728 SCH

  • Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York, by Rosalie Bailey 728 BAI or HERITAGE REF 929.3749 BAI

  • Turn-of-the-Century Houses, Cottages and Villas, by R.W. Shoppell 728.37 TUR



  • Ridgewood history materials are available in the Heritage Center, in the section HERITAGE REF 974.922

  • Make an appointment with the Local History Librarian Sarah Kiefer to view materials in the Ridgewood Archives

  • Search the Heritage CATalog for information on local history


Compile the History

  • Document your sources, include photos, maps and excerpts from documents and newspapers

  • Write it down for yourself, your family, and the next people to live in the house

  • Donate a copy to the Bolger Heritage Center

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