The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects

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Researching a Building


Research guides

Resources for researching historic buildings and architects vary in different localities. There are a number of research guides online that will help you get started.

· Finding Information on Buildings and PlacesEnvironmental Design Library, University of California at Berkeley, emphasizes the Bay Area but is a good overview for new researchers of what types of sources may answer what questions. Also see their guide San Francisco Bay Area Architects and Architecture

· How to Research a San Francisco Building, San Francisco Public Library

· Historical Research Guide, Los Angeles Conservancy

· Architecture and Design Research Guide, UCLA Library

·  New York City Buildings: Research Guide, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University

·  Researching Historic Washington, D.C. Buildings, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

· How to Research a Historic Building in Boston, City of Boston

· Pittsburgh Architecture: A Guide to Research, Carnegie Mellon University Architectural Archives

· Drafting a House History, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota

· Building and House History, Minnesota Historical Society

· Researching Your Own Home, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University

· Research Resources: Architecture and Building History, Chicago History Museum

· How to Research Your Historic Virginia Property, Virginia Department of Historic Resources

· Architecture and Building: Resources by Topic, Architecture Studies Library, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (very comprehensive)

· Shaker Heights Building Card Database and Research Your Shaker Heights Home, Shaker Heights Public Library, Ohio

· Researching House History in Columbus, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Ohio

· House History Aid, Indianapolis Public Library

· Historic Architecture of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington


Local history resources
Local history collections in libraries, museums, or historical societies can help you find information in newspapers, city directories, local government records, books on the architecture of the area, and many other resources. Repositories of Primary Sources is a site with links to special collections repositories organized by state that can help you find local history collections in your area. 
Finding articles 
There are several specialized indexes to articles in architectural magazines. The most comprehensive is the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, which indexes citations to articles from the 19th century to the present. These indexes are available through libraries which subscribe to them. If there is a university with a school of architecture near you, check their library web site to find out whether the public can use the library. Once you have located a citation to an article, any library’s Inter-Library Loan department can help you determine the nearest library that owns that magazine.
Historic registers 
If you are researching an architect who already has a historic building listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in the National Historic Landmarks Program, or similar state programs, request a copy of the nomination form for the building. It should contain research already done about that architect, with sources noted.
State historic register programs are usually administered through the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs).




















































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