House Genealogy Guide
If you are researching the the history of a house or property in Nashville, here are some resources located in the Metro Archives to help you in your search:
Deed Books and Deed Book Indexes:
Davidson County Deed Indexes at Metro Archives span a period from 1784 to 1924. There are both reverse (buyer) and direct (seller) indexes. Deed Records on microfilm span between 1784 and 1901. To conduct a complete search, it will be necessary to visit the Davidson County Register of Deeds Office.
Nashville City Directories, 1853 to 2011:
From 1853 to 1909, city directories cn be searched by name only. Beginning in 1910, city directories can be searched by name and by street address. City Directories before 1963 did not cover the entire county but did extend beyond the official city limits.
The Metro Archives houses the 1871 Map of Davidson County, 1877 Map of Nashville, 1889 Atlas, 1908 Engineers Map, 1919 County Road Map, and Sanborn Insurance Maps. The 1889 and 1908 maps and the Sanborn maps show footprints of existing buildings.
Plat books show subdivisions of property. The earliest Register's Office book in Metro Archives holdings dates to 1855. Metro Archives has plats continuing through the late 1990s. Subdivision plats are dated and contain property dimensions and building footprints. An abstract of any lot in your subdivision may give you a history of the property before the division.
Tennessee Title Company Abstracts, 1915-1940:
The Tennessee Title Company Abstracts were transferred to Metro Archives by the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The abstracts trace property ownership back for several generations. Copies of early deeds, last wills and testaments, and property plats are often included.
Denis Title Abstracts, 1900-1945:
This small collection of abstracts traces property ownership back for several generations. Copies of early deeds, last wills and testaments, and property plats are often included.
Wills and Estate Records:
Property is sometimes transferred by a bequest found in a will or distributed in the settlement of an estate.
The Metro Archives has limited tax records from 1890 to 1904. The Tennessee State Library and Archives has some tax regords from 1948 and before. For information on more recent records, contact the Assessor of Property Office.
Chancery Court Records
Property information can be found in minute books, case files, and plan books. Chancery is an equity court and cases concerning the division of estates and property are often heard there. Plan books and sometimes case files have plats of property, which can include building footprints.
City of Nashville Annual Reports
These reports can be used to research 1892-1893 building permits. Building permits for Nashville are kept only for a span of a few years and then are destroyed. The 1892 and 1893 permits survive because they were published in the annual reports.
Specific Areas, Buildings, Past Buildings, Homes, Churches, Businesses, and Surnames. These files contain clippings from Nashville newspapers and magazines, as well as other published and unpublished material submitted to the Archives.
Collections donated to Metro Archives by other Metro departments and individuals, such as the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, the Judi Wells East Nashville Collection, and the John Connelly Germantown Collection, all include research on specific neighborhoods, homes, churches, schools, and other buildings.
Neighborhood, Building, and Communitiy Histories contain information on houses and buildings and often include photographs.
Metro Archives has several photographic collections. The largest, consisting of more than several thousand negatives and several hundred prints, is primarily the work of the city-employed photographers between 1945 and 1985. Other collections which contain photographs of buildings and street scenes are the Bainbridge Collection, the Creighton Collection, the MDHA Photograph Collection, and the Thuss Collection.
Neighbors and Neighborhood Associations:
Ask neighbors what they know about your house, previous owners and the history of your neighborhood. Try to contact previous owners. They may know the history of the house and may have old photographs to share.