United States Land and Property

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Beginners' Corner

What are United States land records?
What time periods and locations do they cover?
What can I find in them?
How do I access them?
Search strategies


Emigrants Crossing the Plains

The availability of land attracted many immigrants to America and encouraged westward expansion. Land ownership was generally recorded in an area as soon as settlers began to arrive. These important records sometimes exist when few other records are available.

Land records are primarily used to learn where an individual lived and when he lived there. They often reveal other family information, such as the name of a spouse, heir, other relatives, or neighbors. You may learn where a person lived previously, his occupation, if he had served in the military, if he was a naturalized citizen, and other clues for further research

The Land Acquisition Process

In the United States, land is acquired in basically one of two ways; from the government or from an individual. The first sale of land from the government to a person is called a grant or a patent. Thereafter, the sale of that land from a person is called a deed.

Government to Person Person to Person

United States

Federal Land States

Federal vs. State Land States.png
Federal land states (blue) & state land states (brown)

State Land States

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