House and building histories

House and building histories

Where to begin?

Our case studies are a good introduction to finding out about a house like yours.

Case studies

Research the history of your house or apartment

Searching for the history of a particular Sydney building? Looking for information about the home an ancestor lived in?

The City of Sydney Archives contains a wealth of information about Sydney’s households and buildings dating back to the mid-19th century.

This house and building histories guide will lead you through many of the resources available to research the history of your house or apartment. It is intended for residents of the City of Sydney's local area.

Locate your property in the local area

An important first step in researching a property is locate it within the City of Sydney local area.

Search postal directories

Postal directories, such as the Sands directories help identify people or businesses who once lived at your address. The Sands directories are especially useful for family history research, due to the household and business information they contain from 1859 to 1932.

Look for historic photos

Historical images held at the archives may show the place where you live. ArchivePix is the archives' online catalogue of photographs. More than 75,000 photos have been digitised and catalogued in ArchivePix, and staff are still adding more. Some series and collections are only selectively represented, which is indicated in captions.

Search assessment and rates records

Among the most popular records with researchers, assessment books contain basic information about every property in the City of Sydney that has paid rates in a certain period. These records will help you find details of ownership, occupation, construction and property values from 1845–1948. You will find valuable family and property history that is not available from any other source.

Search building and development applications

Building and development applications can help you find out when your house or apartment was built, who owned it, who lived in it and how the building has been altered over time.

Explore planning street cards

These planning street cards provide information about historical buildings and development applications from about 1908 to the 1990s. The street cards show all the applications submitted to the City, whether or not the original files and plans exist.

Find your property on historic maps and plans

Maps and plans can help to place your house or apartment in context. A wide range of maps are available to view and download from the City's Historical Atlas of Sydney, as well as from other libraries and archives around NSW and Australia.

Case studies

Learn more from our range of case studies and the types of questions you can answer with the resources on hand.

Access even more resources

Here you will find links to even more websites, books and suburb guides.

Main image: George Street circa 1900. City of Sydney Archives, NSCA CRS 51/19.

Last updated: Thursday, 12 May 2016