Land Records 101 (9/8/14 - 10/3/14)

Course Id: 2106-42
Course Start Date: 09-08-2014- Course End Date: 10-03-2014
Instructor: Diana Smith
Available Seats: 12      
Tuition: $99.99

When you're trying to pinpoint ancestral residences, determine wealth or even trace descendants, land records can often provide answers—once you get past unfamiliar terminology and survey systems. In this course, you will master the basics of US land records research, including what documents to look for (online and offline), how to "plat" land and how to make the most of these often-overlooked resources.


  • Definitions and terminology used in property and deeds
  • Locating and platting land using the "metes and bounds" method
  • Locating and platting land using the federal "rectangular survey" method
  • Special programs, such as military bounty lands and the Homestead Acts
  • Finding and using records at the Bureau of Land Management website
  • Finding and gleaning the most from land records


  • Genealogists new to US land records research
  • Experienced researchers who want to expand their knowledge of land records
  • Homeowners/residents who want to trace the history of their house
  • People interested in the history of land ownership and how it's changed over the years

Course Outline

Lesson 1: Definitions
A. Terms found in land records
B. Exercise

Lesson 2: Deeds of Sale
A. Overview of deeds
I. Types of deeds
II. Structure of a deed
B. Finding deeds
C. Using deeds
I. Practice reading deeds
II. Recording deeds
D. Exercise

Lesson 3: Land Survey Systems
A. Patents and grants
B. Metes and bounds land records
I. Description
II. Practice
C. Public land survey system
I. Description
II. Practice
D. Exercise

Lesson 4: Homestead Act of 1862
A. Bureau of Land Management/General Land Office History
I. Early land sales
II. Growth of the nation
III. Land Disposition Acts
B. Homestead Act of 1862
I. History
II. Provisions
C. Finding Homestead Records
I. Records at NARA
II. Records in the GLO database
III. Other sources
D. Exercise

Lesson 5: Military Bounty Lands
A. Military bounty land warrants
I. Revolutionary War
II. War of 1812 and later
B. Finding military bounty land records
I. Records at NARA
II. Records in the GLO database
III. Other sources
C. Exercise