If you'd like to know more about the history of your Boston-Edison home, we've gathered some resources on this page. Here are some suggestions for finding out more about your home's past, and its past residents.
Of course Boston-Edison residents aren't the only ones interested in their home's past. Here are a few guides written for the historical researcher:
Your "Old" pre-1921 House Number: On January 1, 1921, Detroit renumbered all the addresses in the city, so that the numbers were consistent from block to block. In Boston-Edison, all houses received new, very different address numbers. If your home was built before 1921, you'll need to know the "old" address when using any pre-1921 resources. For a cross-reference of Boston-Edison old and new addresses, look here, or visit Stephen Morse's site for the entire book.
Legal Description: For some property searches, you'll need to know the legal description of your property (the liber number and page number where the property is recorded, and the subdivision and lot number where the house is located). All this should be on your mortgage document, or at the City of Detroit Parcel Viewer at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can find the legal description at the Wayne County Register of Deeds. Access their search engine, type in the name of the house's owner, and bring up one of the documents on file. The legal description will be at the bottom of the page.
There are multiple places to find information about previous residents of your house, who they were, and what they did.
Detroit City Directories: City directories list residents and their occupations for each address throughout the city. Using these, HBEA has compiled a historic list of residents for every house in the neighborhood at approximately five year intervals through the early 1970s. HBEA members can download a spreadsheet version of the list here. (Note that the original directories contain occasional misspelling of names, so cross-check any information.) For directories from other years, visit the Burton Historical Collection at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, which stocks more City Directories through the early 1970s.
Wayne County Register of Deeds: The Wayne County Register of Deeds has a record of the owners of each piece of property (who may or may not be the residents of the house). The office has a limited online search engine, with records beginning in 1986. However, if you visit their Greektown office in person, they can provide a copy of your property records for a small fee. You'll need to know the legal definition of your property.
Detroit Free Press: You can search back issues of the Detroit Free Press (1831-1999) online, for free, through the Detroit Public Library, if you have a library card. If you don't have a card, back issues are also searchable through newspapers.com. The newspapers.com search is free, but more than a snippet view requires a subscription. You can also view the appropriate issue yourself in person on microfilm at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. Search for your house number and street, names of residents, or any other applicable information.
Genealogy sites such as ancestry.com also have resources for identifying historic residents, although a subscription is typically required. A short list of suggested sites is included in HomeAdvisor's Guide.
Census Data: The raw handwritten house-by-house US census records through 1940 are available online. The records list every person living at every address (including children, boarders, and servants), along with their age, occupation, and place of birth. Finding a particular address requires that you know its Enumeration District (ED), each of which encompasses a few square blocks (see, for example, this map of the 1940 EDs). The best free online tool to identify census records for a particular address is hosted by Steve Morse. As a short-cut, the Enumeration Districts covering Boston-Edison are listed in the table below for the 1910-1940 censuses, with links to the scanned census documents:
|Blocks||1910 census||1920 census||1930 census||1940 census|
|0-100 Block||Wayne-34|| Wayne-87 (Ed-Long-Chic-Bost)
| 82-62 (Ed-Long-Chic-Bost)
| 84-100 (Ed-Long-Chic-Bost)
|600-700 Block||Wayne-63|| Wayne-156 (Ed)
|800-900 Block||Wayne-63|| Wayne-155 (Ed-Long)
|1100-1200 Block||--|| Wayne-215 (Ed-Long-Chic-Bost)
|1400-1500 Block||--||Wayne-216||82-165|| 84-274 (Ed-Long)
|1600-1700 Block||--||Wayne-270|| 82-220 (Ed-Long-Chic-Bost)
| 84-371 (Ed-Long)
|1900-2000 Block||--||Wayne-270|| 82-220 (Ed-Long-Chic-Bost)
| 84-371 (Ed-Long)
|2200-2300 Block||--|| Wayne-325
The addresses in each Enumeration District are listed in the order visited by the census-taker, which will often (although not always) be in order block-by-block geographically. In some cases, houses on the north and south sides of the street will be in different ED. Some addresses may be out of order, so you may need to scan the entire ED. For the 1910 and 1920 census, houses are listed by their pre-1921 address (see above).
If you know who owned or lived in your house, and want to know more about that person, there are a few places to look for biographies or other information.
There are, unfortunately, only a few resources for historic images and maps. A few resources for specific maps and images include:
1974 House Photos: In the 1970s, when Boston-Edison was first designated a historic district, every house in the neighborhood was photographed. Colored slides of this photography project are kept by the Detroit Historic District Commission. Contact them to get a copy.
Aerial Photographs: Historic aerial photographs of Detroit from DTE are online at Wayne State University's digital collections. Boston-Edison appears in photographs from 1949 and 1952 (pre-freeway!), as well as from 1956 (Zones 1&2 and Zones 2&3), 1961, 1981 (Zone 1, Zones 2&3), and 1997.
Boston-Edison Archives: The Historic Boston-Edison Association maintains an archive of items associated with the neighborhood. The archives include a few images of some homes. There are only a few, but please contact us and ask if yours is among them.
Newspaper Photos: Some houses were sold through newspaper advertisements, some of which include photos of the house. If you have a library card, check back issues of the Detroit Free Press (1831-1999) online, for free, through the Detroit Public Library. If you don't have a card, back issues are also searchable through newspapers.com. Back issues are also available on microfilm at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library.
Online Archives: Some Detroit-area institutions are putting parts of their historical collections on-line. These include:
Sanborn Maps: Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are large-scale maps of the location, footprint, and construction of every building in the city. If your house was built before 1915, it will be included in this Volume 9 Sanborn Map at the Library of Congress. Additionally, Sanborn Maps from 1925 and 1950 can be accessed via the Detroit Public Library. If you have a library card, you can access the maps remotely (Boston-Edison is in Volume 9, Detroit, Michigan).
Boston-Edison Subdivision Plat Maps: The state of Michigan has digital copies of original plat maps online, showing the locations and sizes of all lots in the neighborhood. All of Boston-Edison is located in one of following subdivisions (verify with the City of Detroit Parcel Viewer):