Researching Historic Property at Atlanta History Center’s Kenan Research Center


Atlanta has grown over time, mostly due to neighborhoods that have been annexed over time. The area we know today as Atlanta was ceded from the Muscogee and Cherokee in a series of treaties during the early 1800s. Surveyors then divided the land into districts and land-lots, which were auctioned off to ‘fortunate drawers’ in a series of land lotteries. These districts and land-lots still exist to this day in the tax property identification codes, which makes them more reliable than addresses that have often changed with the city limits, post office renumbering schemes, and developers. Kenan Research Center has a variety of resources that cover areas by neighborhood name, address, owner, district and land-lot. 

How do I begin researching historic property?

Start with what you know! A street address and current owner is a great place to start, since either of those will allow you to search for the tax property identification number for the parcel of land that you’re researching. Most of Atlanta falls in Fulton or Dekalb counties, both counties use similar software for their Tax Assessor Office. Simply put in the information that you know, and it should give you a Parcel ID that breaks down into District, Land lot, Square, Parcel.  


17 010600080520
17 – District | 0106 – Land Lot | 0008 – Square | 0520 – Parcel 


15 247 06 014
15 – District | 247 – Land Lot | 06 – Square | 014 – Parcel

Additional. Resources.

With this information you can do deeper dives into a variety of resources, while a few of these you can explore at home on your computer, most of these are not yet digitized and will require an appointment at the Kenan Research Center to view. 

What should I keep a record of?

Start with a word document where you can track homeowners, address changes, and major events in the area with a simple timeline. Ideally, you should save documents as a pdf or image file, that you can link to in the timeline. Name these files with the year that they were created, and then what they are or where they are from so you can keep them in timeline order. 

It is important to keep records of where the materials are from and how they should be cited in case you are interested in reproducing the image in the future. 

How can the Kenan Research Center help me? 

Once you find some items that you are interested in, schedule a time to visit us! We are open by appointment only Tuesday–Saturday from 10am–5pm. To make an appointment, email or call 404.814.4040 with the day and time you are interested in and the resources that you would like to look at. It is completely free to visit the research center, just park in the free deck, and walk down the hill to McElreath Hall. Once inside, walk down the hall to the right to the double glass doors marked “Kenan Research Center.” 

Onsite, we offer free access to the library editions of and, both of which can provide a wide range of materials relevant to researching historic houses, neighborhoods, and past owners. Be sure to bring a portable flash drive with you so you can save high resolution images of the materials that you find. 

In addition to the collections listed above, we also have numerous manuscript, photograph, and map collections. We are also the repository for the City of Atlanta records which has gems such as the 1896 Atlanta census—a typewritten record of the residents of Atlanta, divided by ward, that includes the resident’s place of birth.  

What about finding the Deed Records for my place? 

Deeds are kept by the county that the structure is in. These records are usually housed in the courthouse. They are always publicly accessible, although it can sometimes be daunting to go in yourself to look. We have a guide to deed record research to help those that are looking in Fulton, Dekalb, and Cobb counties. 

What if I need more help? 

We love to talk history with people. If we do not have what you need, we have a wide network of other repositories and researchers that we can connect you with to find what you are looking for! All you need to do is ask us.  

Here are some other helpful resources outside of Kenan Research Center: