Looking for a low-cost, high impact way to celebrate your HBA’s role in your community during the year-long commemoration of NAHB’s 75th anniversary?
Think about compiling a history of your HBA or partnering with a business or local history group to develop a detailed timeline of growth and development in your community.
The HBA of Greater Cincinnati did just that last year with the publication of “Homeward Bound: A Short Story of the Long History of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.”
Written by HBA EO Dan Dressman, the book documents the HBA’s history from its inception in 1934 to the present and details its important role in helping to shape the Greater Cincinnati region.
“I wanted to write this book primarily because no one had ever captured the interesting history of our association,” Dressman said.
The HBA of Greater Cincinnati was founded in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It also helped combat the local housing shortage after World War II.
“We have had a lot of brushes with history over the years,” he said.
Dressman said that having meeting minutes from as far back as 1934 helped him a lot in his research. But don’t despair if you can’t locate your HBA’s earliest records. There are plenty of alternatives.
Members are the best place to start when compiling a history, especially those who have been a part of the HBA for many years. Getting a small group of long-time members together to reminisce is sure to provide a good launching point.
You should also consider enlisting the assistance of members who are avid amateur historians or who pursue their family history. Detectives at heart, they will thrill to the hunt. And they already know the best places to dig for details.
Lacking expert involvement, where’s the best place to start? You guessed it. Not just a repository for countless cat videos and accounts of alien abductions, the Internet has a vast store of free or low-cost resources.
Begin with a simple search for your HBA. You may be surprised at what you find.
Archive.org is a great free resource providing digital access to millions of texts and hundreds of thousands of video and audio files.
The NAHB Experimental House
Just a quick search turned up:
And check your own files: A few years ago, NAHB’s digital archive turned up information about the London House, which was constructed at the 1960 Ideal Home Exhibition in London by NAHB to showcase U.S. home design and technology.
Old newspaper issues are increasingly available online. Here’s a tip: Many public libraries provide free access to subscription services like newspapers.com and/or local newspapers’ digital archives. You may even be able to access them remotely using your library card/account.
Additional resources, suggestions and tips:
Many states and cities as well as local and state historic associations maintain online archives.
Don’t focus exclusively on digital and online resources; only a small fraction of all potentially relevant resources have been digitized.
Expect the unexpected. A good history tells the whys and wherefores, zooms in on the details that provide texture, context and relevance, and may even unearth some figurative skeletons along the way.
Be sure to share your project with NAHB. Contact Camilo Cuba to learn more.