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Historical Resources

Updated: Sep 9, 2021
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Downtown TimelineLet Us Do the Work

Burial LedgerThe Birmingham Museum has many records that we use, including 1872, 1896, 1908 maps of Birmingham, historical photographs, scrapbooks, tax rolls, Village Minutes, school yearbooks, streetscape and people files, Sanborn insurance maps, and other archival sources. We have access to Village of Birmingham and early City of Birmingham tax rolls for 1888, 1890-94, 1896-97, 1900, 1909-10, 1913, 1915-1927, 1943-44, 1947 and 1949.  (Sorry, these records are historic and for preservation purposes, are not available directly to the public. We are working toward providing them online in the future.)  Find out more about our research services.

(Right: Timeline of the development of Birmingham's downtown, prepared by museum staff for Birmingham Magazine, December 2019.)

Do it Yourself
Doing your own research? the following information is provided to assist you find out more about Birmingham, a particular property, or your own family's history.

Online

  • EccentricDigitized microfilm of the Birmingham Eccentric Newspaper (not indexed) and other local materials are available at the Bloomfield Township Library Archives.   
  • Local maps and some other digitized materials are available at the Oakland History Center (formerly Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Center; see also below)
  • Personal subscription service to family tree databases (such as FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc.) are available online. Accuracy varies.
  • FindaGrave is an online database which is provided by volunteers and may help you track down family members and other information. Accuracy varies.
  • How to Search Early Land Records Online is a .pdf  created by Birmingham Museum staff with step by step instructions and links to view primary source materials such as records at the Bureau of Land Management and also Michigan's early Indian trail maps.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau also has many records online, 
In Person 
The Baldwin Public Library
  • Eccentric Newspaper has been indexed and is available on microfilm beginning in 1878; some issues not available/legible.  
  • R.L. Polk & Phone Directories, which go back to 1937. These directories provided names, address, occupation, spouse's name and sometime children's name. 
  • Telephone Books for Birmingham dating back to 1926.
The Oakland History Center
  •  MapHas many resources and materials about Oakland County in their resource library, which is open to the public.
  • Appointments are encouraged; contact the Center at 405 Cesar E. Chavez, Pontiac, MI  48342, Tues-Thurs 11 to 4. 1-248-338-6732,
Other in person resources
  • Abstracts are the best sources of historical and legal information regarding an historic property. They provide essential information regarding the land. Included are all references to deeds, mortgages, wills, probate records, court litigation, and tax sales. Occasionally an abstract will include description of buildings on the property. Unfortunately, abstracts are not commonly available and are usually in private hands. 
  • Oakland County Land Records including deeds, mortgages and plat maps are available at Oakland County Offices in Pontiac. Photocopying services are available. Oakland County Offices, 1200 N. Telegraph Rd., Pontiac, MI 48341. Telephone 248.858.0606.
  • Probate Court Records  may provide wills, property inventories and mechanics leans (lawsuits or disputes initiated by contractors for non-payment). These documents may provide evidence of construction activities that may provide a date of construction. Oakland County Offices, 1200 N. Telegraph Rd., Pontiac, MI 48341
  • Assessment/Tax Records can provide owners names, size of property, addresses and etc. Village of Birmingham and early City of Birmingham tax roll are available at the Birmingham Historical Museum. The years include 1888, 1890-94, 1896-97, 1900, 1909-10, 1913, 1915-1927, 1943-44, 1947 and 1949. 
  • County Tax Records are available at Oakland University's Library for the years 1841-1871. These records provide only a limited amount of information regarding Birmingham.
  • United States Census Records can be consulted to determine who was living on property, their occupation, children and spouse. Complete census information can be order and view on microfilm at the Family Research Library, Church of the Latter Day Saints, 425 N. Woodward, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.647.2708.
  • Schedule of Products of Agriculture for Oakland County for 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 are available at the State of Michigan Archives. These records may contain inventories regarding farmer's properties including outbuildings, barns, live stock, produce production, etc. Michigan Historical Center, State Archives, 702 W Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48915, 517-335-2573.