If you’ve ever wanted to research the history of your house, your neighborhood, or other location in Charlotte, you’ll be interested in a new resource, CharlotteHistoryToolkit.com.
This website just debuted in April of 2020.
This toolkit offers tips on using newspapers, city directories, plat maps, property deeds and building permits to uncover the history around us.
These are FREE resources. For at least one of the resources you’ll need a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Card. If you don’t have one yet, no worries–you can sign up online and have a completely usable virtual card, in moments, as long as you live in Mecklenburg County. Learn how to get a virtual card, and about more of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Library’s resources.
The best part of Charlotte History Toolkit is that it gives step by step instructions. Some of these website can be a little bit overwhelming, but the instructions will help you navigate to just where you want to go.
A word of warning: once you start digging into these resources, you might find yourself going down rabbit holes! There’s so much information, and you’ll keep unearthing surprising nuggets of information as you dig.
Virtual Workshop on The Charlotte History Toolkit
Historian Tom Hanchett and J. Michael Moore are offering a live virtual workshop on Friday, May 15th, 2020, from 12 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.
In the workshop you’ll learn how to use the toolkit to explore your neighborhood or the history of your own home. It will be moderated by the Charlotte Museum of History President and CEO Adria Focht.
The program will include a demonstration and a community discussion.
This will be a Zoom discussion. When you register you’ll be sent an invitation the morning of the program.
Charlotte History Toolkit Resources
Here are some of the resources that Charlotte History Toolkit helps with. Click on “more info,” below, for each one, for detailed instructions.
You can search The Charlotte Observer back to the 1880s, along with other newspapers, through the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library Resources page. You’ll need a library card. More info.
This is something we didn’t know existed. City Directories come out every year, and include a street section, with every street and address in the city (including the main resident or business at that address), and an alphabetical section, that lists residents alphabetically. Charlotte City Directories started in 1875, and there is one every year since 1903.
You can find the City Directories before 1964 online, but you’ll need to go to the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room at the Main Library to thumb through City Directories from 1964 on, so that’s something to look forward to when the libraries re-open. More info.
With Plat Maps you can see how a subdivision is laid out, the date, the original names of the subdivision and streets, the developer’s name and more. These are publicly available, but a little complicated to access. The instructions in Research Your Neighborhood make it easy. More info.
Every time a property is sold, a deed is filed at Register of Deeds. From the deed you’ll learn the date of sale, the buyer and seller, reference to a previous deed, reference to a plat map, and any restrictions to the deed. Deeds, like plat maps, are publicly available, but can be complicated to access, so the instructions help a lot. There are even videos on finding property deeds, a deed chain of title search and understanding restrictive covenants. More info.
Building permits can tell you the date construction began, the builder’s name, the owner’s name, and sometimes, the architect’s name, square footage, and more. They are only found at the Carolina Room of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Main Library, and only from 1911 to 1985. More info.
On Research Your Neighborhood’s Frequently Asked Questions page, you can learn how to find photos of your house or neighborhood, some written histories of Charlotte neighborhoods, information on historic landmarks, books on Charlotte’s history, and more. More info.
Charlotte History Toolkit is a collaborative project of community historians Michael Moore and Tom Hanchett. They pulled this information together with help from Tom Cole at Robinson Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and web developer Carol Sawyer.Subscribe to Charlotte on the Cheap