Course #2: Land Records

Instructor: Lisa Gorrell, CG
Dates offered: Thursdays, October 21, and 28, November 4 and 11, 2021
Time: 3:30-6:30 pm Pacific/6:30-9:30 Eastern time zone
Cost: $300

Many immigrants came to the Americas for the opportunity to buy their own land and be independent of estate owners and landlords. Because of this importance to the lives of our ancestors, land research is important to genealogists for its evidentiary value of wealth, heirs and relationships.

Do you have these questions: How do I find deeds? How do I interpret the deed? What do all these terms mean? How can I find out where my ancestor’s land was? Did my ancestor homestead? Can I use deeds to solve genealogical mysteries? What questions can a genealogist answer with deeds?

Each session will have in-class activities (individual, small groups, and/or whole class). There will be case studies assigned after sessions 1-3 to be done during the week and reviewed at the beginning of each session. Homework turned in by two days before the class will be reviewed.

Requirements: An account in FamilySearch. For the platting: land measure compass, such as this one:, clear ruler, graph paper, pencil, colored pen or highlighter to mark up calls.

Recommended books:

Course Outline

Session 1: All About Land Records

  • Types of land records and land terminology
  • Deed types and parts of deeds
  • Using indexes to find deeds
  • Transcription and abstraction tips
  • Four in-class exercises
  • Homework case studies

Session 2: All About Federal Land

  • Using the Bureau of Land Management Website to conduct land patent search, find surveys, tract books, and clues to homestead records
  • Plat Rectangular System deeds
  • Methods of keeping track of land transactions
  • Several in-class exercises
  • Homework case studies

Session 3: All About State-Land States & Land Platting (Metes & Bounds)

  • Manual deed platting working with metes and bounds land descriptions with several in-class exercises
  • Introduction to using platting software and online tools
  • Homework: Case studies using state-land state deeds

Session 4: Putting it all together

  • Analyzing and correlating land records with other types of records (census, tax, probate, court, newspapers, & maps) to solve genealogical problems.
  • Case study presentations & in-class exercises