Using Land Records to Solve Genealogical Problems

Instructor: Lisa S. Gorrell, CG
Dates offered: Thursdays, Oct 26, Nov 2, 9, and 16
Time: 2:00-5:00 PT/5:00-8:00 ET
Cost: $300
Registration: 17-23 August 2023

Description: This course will cover land records, from the acquiring of land from the government through a patent to land transfer by deed. Skills covered are transcribing and abstracting deeds, locating deeds online and offline, and platting deed property descriptions. Besides lectures, there will be in-class exercises, and instructor-commented homework assignments. Optional presentation at the last session.

Prerequisites: Some skill in using the FamilySearch catalog.

Optional books: These books are optional, but are great books for your genealogy library. Each have chapters pertaining specifically to court and estate records.

Hatcher, Patricia Law, Locating Your Roots: Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records, (Cincinnati, OH: Betterway Books, 2003), “What’s in a Deed?” pp 102–116.

Hone, E. Wade, Land & Property Research in the United States, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997), “Records Generated by Individual Lands,” pp 183–188

Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.

Rose, Christine. Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2004. 

Luebking, Sandra Hargreaves, The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. An online version of the book is located at Rootsweb. The chapter on Land Records is divided into several sections. Start with “Overview of Land Records”

Session 1:

  • Introductions
  • Lecture: What are Land Records
  • Lecture: Land Terminology & Parts of Deeds
  • In-Class Exercise
  • Break
  • Lecture: Locating Deeds at FamilySearch or Local Courthouse
  • Homework Assignment

Session 2:

  • Review of Homework #1
  • Lecture: Federal Land System & Using the Bureau of Land Management Website
  • In-class Exercise
  • Break
  • Lecture: Tools for Tracking Land Purchases & Sales
  • Homework Assignment

Session 3:

  • Review of Homework #2
  • Lecture: State Land Descriptions
  • In-class work: Deed Platting by Hand & Paper
  • Break
  • In-class work: Deed Platting Using Software & Online Tools
  • Homework Assignment

Session 4:

  • Review of Homework #3
  • Case Study
  • Break
  • Student Projects