How Do You Find Land History Records?

How Do You Find Land History Records?

You can find land history records via the National Archives, the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, or a local museum or archive. Archives charge for copies of some documents, whereas other documents may be free but only available in formats that you cannot copy.

The National Archives offer land entry case files, which are typically of interest to genealogists and individuals in search of family histories tied to parcels of land. At, you may order a land entry case file by filling out Form NATF 84.

The National Archives also contain tract books, land patents and other land records pertaining to the 30 states that were part of the original public domain. This excludes the 13 colonies and seven additional states whose own archives and historical societies potentially hold the keys to the history of local land records.

For example, the New York State Archives houses land records and related information under genealogy resources, both within their brick-and-mortar archives and at under New York State Archives. Most of the records are only available on microfilm. Visit the website of your local state museum and archives for specific details about how to research land records.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management is a possible source of copies of land patents, survey plats, field notes and land status records. At, you may locate any existing documents via a simple search engine and such criteria as state, county and land description.