Section 4.4: Research Guide

Find Your Preservation Story – “Tracing the Clues” Workbook

Like any detective, to uncover a story you’ve got to search for clues.  A good place to start is with what you can see and know on the surface. Trace your first clues by filling in the blanks below and consult the Glossary or Resources Guides if you get stuck.

After you’ve gathered as many clues as you can find, it’s time to start your investigation into resources. Start with the “Finding Stories: Traditional and Online Resources” guide provided to your teacher. If you have access to a local archive or historical center, ask a reference librarian to assist you in finding any of the following documents  to discover the characters, actions, and events related to your old building’s story:

Architectural Journals, Cemetery Records, Census Records, Commercial Histories, Community/ County Histories, Court Documents, Directories and Gazetteers, Estate Records, Family/ Personal Papers, Genealogical Records, Land Records, Maps and Plats, Military Records, Newspapers, Photographs and Postcards, Tax Records.

If you can’t visit a local archive or historical center, search one of the many online resources listed in the guide. You might also conduct an oral history by interviewing a past resident or affiliate of the building.


This project was supported in part by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Historical Resource Development Program.