Resources for researching the history of homes, buildings and neighborhoods
Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library has many resources to help you find information on the history of your home. Additional resources can be found at other libraries, archives, historical societies and government agencies.
Contact Special Collections for assistance with your search.
Building permits and index cards
- Minneapolis Building Permit Index Cards
Learn about the construction and improvement history of your house or building (1884-1974). Search by address or street name. Learn how to interpret a permit card (PDF)
- Minneapolis building permits
Original permits may include the architect and more detailed information about work performed. Available in-person or by request from Minneapolis Development Review. Recent permits available through the online Property Info Search.
- Non-Minneapolis building permits
Retention varies from city to city. Start by contacting the Building Inspection or Planning Department within your city. They may refer you to the local historical society.
Blueprints and Architectural Styles
- House plan books and periodicals
Local architect publications like these, primarily from the early 20th century, may contain similar or identical floor plans to your house. Additional house plan books and magazines are available in print in Special Collections.
- Northwest Architectural Archives
This University of Minnesota archive includes records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects and interior designers from the region. Materials include blueprints, drawings, job files, photographs, and other original material. Appointment required.
Maps and atlases
Maps may show property boundaries, ward boundaries, roads, railroad tracks, streetcar lines, the names of businesses, geographical attributes, and more. View thousands of maps in Digital Collections. Find more maps at the University of Minnesota Borchert Map Library.
- Plat maps (atlases)
View the library's digitized Minneapolis plat books (1885 - 1887 - 1898 - 1914 - 1940) online in addition to many suburban atlases. Atlases are available in print in Special Collections.
- Historical Hennepin County Plat Maps
Over 4,000 county plat maps digitized in partnership with the Hennepin County Recorder’s Office. These maps show boundaries and ownership of land parcels at the addition level. Please contact the Hennepin County Recorder/Registrar of Titles if you are interested in viewing the current legal version.
- Minneapolis Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
Sanborn maps show detailed information about properties and buildings. View Digital Sanborn Maps (library card required) or Library of Congress digitized Sanborn Maps. Print volumes of a 1912 Sanborn map with changes through 1930 are available in Special Collections
- Hennepin County Interactive Property Map
Current map of all Hennepin County properties. Includes description of property, tax information, and more.
Surveys contain original footprint, dimensions, and outbuildings for Minneapolis properties or buildings with building permit work performed from 1916 to 1965 (permits B122143 to B394097). Lot surveys do not exist for every building permit.
- Minneapolis Lot Survey Collection
This collection is in the process of being digitized. Additional lot surveys will continue to be added. Search the digitized collection by address or building permit number, which can be found on the building permit index cards. Non-digitized building permits are available on microfilm at Minneapolis Central Library.
- Hennepin County Interactive Property Map
Surveyed properties for Minneapolis and broader Hennepin County can also be found in the Hennepin County Interactive Property Map. Zoom in to turn on “Surveyed Properties” map layer for access to lot surveys.
Directories list the previous occupants of a house and often their occupation and place of employment. Search online directories by address. Print directories can be searched by address beginning in 1930.
- Minneapolis City Directories
Available online 1859-1944. Print directories available at Minneapolis Central Library through 2003.
- St. Louis Park City Directories
Available online 1933-1977.
- Other city directories
Available in print at Minneapolis Central Library. Coverage varies from city to city. “Suburban Area” directories cover 1956-1988 and include most inner ring suburbs. Additional individual directories are available for many cities in Hennepin County.
- Newspaper clippings
Vertical files are available in Special Collections by subject or person name. Files may be available for a particular address, homeowner, architect or Minneapolis neighborhood. Excellent coverage of 1920s-1980s.
- Minneapolis neighborhood newspapers
Special Collections houses a significant collection of Minneapolis neighborhood newspapers. View digitized neighborhood newspapers in Digital Collections.
- Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub
Free online access to many early Minnesota newspapers, provided by the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Star Tribune Archive (1867-present)
Subscription database that may be searched as an index for free. Search by address for classified ads, real estate listings, obituaries, and more.
Additional property records
- Hennepin County Recorder’s Office
Legal documents, such as Torrens certificates, from real estate transactions related to property within Hennepin County. Other documents such as military separations, mortgage records, and tax liens are recorded here.