The history of a home is found through the chain of title and former deeds. Copies of deeds can be found at the public office where the municipality files deeds and public records, such as a clerk's office. Information regarding deaths of prior owners can be found through census records.
A deed is the legal document that is used to transfer ownership of property. Each deed provides the name of the prior owner, so a person wanting to research the history of a home can start with the current deed and work backward. Deeds may also provide information regarding the dates of construction, changes in use and value, and plot maps. When property owners are listed in succession, it's known as the "chain of title." It can be a time-consuming process, but a title search is the best method for establishing that chain. Researching old phone books or city directories may also help an individual to establish prior home ownership.
Census records are helpful in discovering the death records of prior owners. Because of privacy concerns, many census records are not generally available after the 20th century, but those records that are available can be found in archives, online and at libraries.