The starting point for the study of any house or building is the undertaking of a programme of archival research. This normally involves online research and visits to the national, county and local record offices, as appropriate, to review historic archive collections including historic maps and plans, photographic collections, trade and street directories, census returns, electoral registers and old newspapers.
Documentary sources can add significantly to the understanding of the origin and development of a building, its history, use and pattern of historical ownership and occupation. It can greatly inform the analysis of the building itself, establishing an historical context for changes and developments identified during fieldwork.
Documentary research will normally be undertaken in conjunction with a programme of building assessment or detailed recording.