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House & Building History Research: People

Published Sources for Finding People

  • City directories include an alphabetical index to individuals, businesses, and organizations.  For individuals there is often information about their employment or business.  There is also a classified section with business types.  Starting around 1930 directories include a reverse-directory section organized by street and building number that indicates the primary occupants of that structure.
  • Other directories, including Who's Who publications, professional directories, and phone books. The Dual City Blue Book--a social register for Minneapolis and Saint Paul published between 1885 and 1927--includes an index by address for those who were listed.
  • Newspapers may feature articles and obituaries for individuals
  • Books, including biographies, company histories, organizational histories, and county and local histories may have information about prominent individuals.
  • Periodicals such as the Architect, Builder and Decorator (and its predecessor and successor publications) include information on buildings under construction, architects, and contractors.

More information on directories can be found in our Directories Research Guide. 

Primary Sources for Finding People

Manuscript and government records collections may contain valuable information about people.  

  • Search the library catalog to locate collections about a specific individual or family.
  • If you know a person worked for a particular company, you can see if there are personnel or employee records for that company.
  • Collections for specific organizations, such as Sons of the American Revolution, veterans organizations, community and professional organizations may include biographical information on their members.
  • Census records contain the names of all people living in the household, including extended family, servants, and boarders.  


People Links

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