Old House Diaries

Van Lew ManionYou've Saved Your House, Now Save Its Stories

Old House Authority helps people preserve their old houses--the skin and bones of their design and construction. But houses live on in other ways, primarily in the hearts and memories of people who’ve passed through them. We believe those memories and the records of time spent in old houses can be useful in ensuring the physical survival of these buildings. We invite you to join our digital preservation project by sharing images, stories, comments, and information on our Old house Diary database. Just click on the “Add a Property” option on this page. If you’ve got old photos or documents stuffed in a shoe box or yellowing in a cabinet, consider donating them to Virginia Commonwealth University Special Collections, where archivists will see that they are appropriately stored, catalogued and made accessible.

What to Preserve

Oral Histories - Don't just reminisce about the house live in or grew up in, record your stories and ensure that the information lives on. We offer a general outline of questions and interview tips on oral histories. The interviews can be summarized and included on our Old House Diaries database, which anyone can search. Copies can be saved to a disk and donated with other materials to VCU LAdams Doubleibraries Special Collections.

Materials - Written and printed records provide essential clues to the past. Letters, photographs, drawings, diaries, , blueprints, plats, surveys and maps reveal a lot about the history, design, construction and use of a property. Too many home owners assume they’ll just pass the materials along to the next owner. But often the chain is broken and materials are lost or damaged. It’s better to store them where they will be protected and preserved in perpetuity. You can make a copies for yourself or a new owner and donate originals to the library for safe-keeping. Contact VCU Libraries (804) 827-3576 for more details.

You can help create a permanent, accessible, ongoing record of the people and events that have shaped your house and community. Get your civic association involved in an oral history project, with special emphasis on elderly residents, whose stories may soon be lost. Or, record and post your own audio clip on our website. Our ultimate goal is to collect and preserve as much information as possible about the history and architecture of old houses and neighborhoods, to create a many-voiced narrative from across the generations that perpetuates the richly inter-connected life of a property or a place over time.

Please visit oldhousediaries.com and add pictures, documents and videos about your house, the house you grew up in, or the one that's always caught your fancy.  Take a look at our video demostration on YouTube by searching for oldhousediaries.  Have fun! Start saving some history! 

Every house has a story. Sign up now to tell yours!

Research Resources

History and Research Links, VCU Libraries Special Collections: http://www.library.vcu.edu/jbc/speccoll/links.html

Map of National Register districts and individual properties in Richmond, VA: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=199b6b0bf02f494fa15a6a4e44575be0

Old and Historic Districts map, Richmond, VA: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=f3a7a3e7f9eb44f6835ddfd0198af085

Maps for other localities will be posted as they become available.  Please email us your favorite research links.