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Land & Property Records

Learn how to research your ancestors using deeds and other land records, including how to decipher old deeds and draw a plat map. Plus, how and where to access land records on the Internet.

Locating Land Records on the BLM's General Land Office Records Website

Timeline of U.S. Public Land Acts
This timeline of major U.S. Congressional acts relating to the sale and disposition of public lands, includes acts regulating cash sales, credit sales, preemptions, bounty lands, and homesteading. The timeline includes text of and links to each of the relevant Congressional laws.

Locating Historical U.S. Deeds Online
Access deeds, mortgages, and other property records online, for genealogical research, title searches, or for the purpose of oil, gas, or shale property leasing.

Land Records Online
Dearch databases and browse digitized images of a variety of online historical land records from around the world, including land grants, deeds, and property maps.

U.S. Land Records Online
Land grants, homestead applications, plat maps, bounty land warrants and even deed records can be found online through a variety of sources.

Plotting Your Ancestor's Land in the Federal Land States
Learn how to locate your ancestor's land deed, homestead grant, or other parcel of land on a map with this guide to plotting, or graphing, land ownership in the thirty Federal Land States of the United States. These step-by-step illustrated instructions explain the Township and Range method of land measurement.

5 Important Clues to Follow Up in Land Deeds
Land deeds are an invaluable resource for genealogists, filled with potential clues to relationships, inheritance, financial status and family events.

Land Platting Made Easy
Learn how to plat a piece of property from the deed description with this free land platting tutorial, complete with instructions and illustrations. Especially useful for genealogical or historical land research, or for placing a particular property on a map.

Digging for Deeds
Learn how to trace your family tree in U.S. land records.

Section, Township & Range
Learn how land was distributed by the U.S. federal government in the thirty public land states, including an explanation of the rectangular survey system, homesteading, and online databases.

Bounty Land Warrants
Bounty land warrants were grants of free land issued to veterans in return for military service from the time of the Revolutionary War through 1855. Learn more about the different types of military bounty land warrants and grants, and how to research in bounty land warrant files.

Land Entry Case Files
Land entry case files are basically the paperwork files generated during the process of granting federal land to homesteaders, soldiers and other patentees. Learn more about what they can tell you and where to get them.

Land Survey Plats & Field Notes
Learn what survey plats are, what you can learn from them and where you can get them.

Metes, Bounds & Meanders - Platting the Land of Your Ancestors
Learn how land was surveyed in the 20 state land states, and how to turn those crazy land descriptions into a plat of your ancestor's property.

Deed Books and the Deeds They Contain
Describes the different types of sales that deed books usually record.

Analyzing Deeds For Useful Clues
From OnBoard, Volume 1 Number 1, the newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.  Reproduced here on their website.

Bureau of Land Management
A searchable database of over 2,000,000 pre-1908 Federal land title records for the 30 Public Land States (these do not include the 13 colony states).

Homestead Act of 1862
An introductory article by Richard Pence.

Taking the Mystery Out of Land Records
A wonderful article by Linda Haas Davenport. Don't miss her other great articles in the Learning Center!

Homestead Records Information Page
This site was developed by Gary Krell with South Dakota in mind, but the information contained applies to any of the thirty Public Domain states where homesteading occurred.

Locating Deed Information
This helpful article from Direct Line Software describes a number of ways to track down old deed information.

INGALLS Homestead File
Get a first-hand look at the genealogical information which can come from US homestead files with these scanned images of 24 original documents pertaining to the DeSmet, South Dakota homestead of the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Metes and Bounds
A primar on how to decipher property descriptions used in old deeds, from Direct Line Software.

Retracing the Trails of Your Ancestors Using Deed Records
An excellent article from the Genealogy Bulletin by William Dollarhide.

Surveying Units and Terms
A very useful list of obscure units and terms that you will run across in land record research, from Direct Line Software.

U.S. Geographic Names Lookup
Locate creeks and other features named in deeds. For more information about tracking down place names, check out the Geographic Place Names section.

Virginia Land Office Patents & Grants
Searchable database of scanned images of Virginia land documents by which the Crown (1623 - 1774) and the Commonwealth (from 1779) transferred new land to individual ownership.

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