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Who Lived In It? Who Owned It?

How to Research a San Francisco Building

Who Lived In It?

San Francisco City Directories - 1850-1869 microfilm/fiche, 1870-1982 print [Magazines & Newspapers Center]; 1850-1982 online.
Use the name of the possible owner or occupant of your property to check the city directories backward and forward from the water date to determine whether that person lived at that address, the length of occupancy of that person, as well as his or her occupation. "Reverse directories," which list the owner or occupant by street address, appear in the directories beginning in 1953.
Street Address Lists & House and Street Directory - Lists addresses alphabetically by street name, with the name of the person or business at that location.
San Francisco, Colma, Daly City Street Address List, 1933 - print [SFHC] and online.
San Francisco, Colma, Daly City Street Address List, 1936 - microfilm [SFHC].
San Francisco House and Street Directory, 1940 - print, microfilm [SFHC] and online.
Index to the Great Register of Voters, 1866-1964, 1985 - incomplete set on microfilm/fiche, print [SFHC]; 1867-1940 online.
After verifying the Assembly District in which the house was sited, you may find the address, name, age, political affiliation, and sometimes the occupation of the building occupants. Note: 48-hour notice required for access to 1945-64.
Index to Great Register of Voters, 1867 - 1922 is available online through Family Search (a free FamilySearch account is required to access the digitized images).
Through Ancestry Library Edition (available at the Main Library and Branches only) search the California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 database. For San Francisco the database covers 1900–1940. The database can be searched using the address in quotes through the keyword function.
United States Federal Census - available through HeritageQuest Online (from outside of the library, San Francisco Public Library card and PIN are required to access the database).
For San Francisco the census dates available are 1860-1940.
San Francisco Blue Book, 1888-1931 - print [SFHC] and online.
Published annually, some editions list socialites by street address.

Who Owned It?

San Francisco Block Book, 1894, 1901, January 1906, October 1906, 1907 (Homesteads only), 1909/1910 - print, microfilm (except 1901) [SFHC] and online. 1925 print only. Note: 48-hour notice required for access to 1925 set.
Indicates lot sizes and the names of property owners. Annotated volumes (1907; and 1909 vols. 1 & 2) index owners up to 1920s-1930s. Partial volumes: 1868-1869 (South of Market, microfilm), 1890 (Western Addition, microfilm), 1920s (Richmond, print), 1957 (50 Vara, print).
Real Property. Index to Deeds (Grantee/Grantor Index), 1848-1913 - incomplete set, microfilm, print, and online.*
Lists deed book number, page, names and date.
*Online images are available through FamilySearch (a free FamilySearch account is required to access the digitized index). For Index to Deeds, click on "Land and Property Records."
Real Property. Deeds, 1848-1863, 1894-1906 - incomplete set, print [SFHC] and online.*
Deeds in chronological order.
Note: 48-hour notice required for access to print version.
*Online images are available through FamilySearch (a free FamilySearch account is required to access the digitized deeds). For Deeds, click on "Land and Property Records."
Office of the Assessor-Recorder (City Hall, Room 190, 415-554-5596).
Find ownership records and transfers of property from 1914 to the present. Locate block and lot numbers through the San Francisco Property Information Map.
1976 Department of City Planning Architectural Survey (San Francisco Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, 415-558-6378).
The City’s research files on thousands of historic buildings in San Francisco. The San Francisco Property Information Map often includes a scan of the form if the building was surveyed.

SFHC = San Francisco History Center

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