Using Land Records: Resource List
by Julie Sayer Enoch Pratt Library
“Original” Land Records: Federal Records
National Archives: Land Entry Case Files and Related Records. These are records that document the transfer of public lands from US Government ownership to private hands. This site discusses which states are “public land states” and “state land states.” This site does not include Maryland land records.
U.S. Department of the Interior. Bureau of Land Management: Official Federal Land Records Site. Includes records of initial transfer of federal land to individuals (federal land patents), survey plats, field notes, and other information. These do not include Maryland land records.
Heritage Quest: U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900. Some government land was awarded to military veterans. Can be searched from home with an EPFL library card.
“Original” Land Records: Maryland Records
Maryland State Archives: Land Records. Explains the land patent process; information on state and provincial records, county and Baltimore City land records; an explanation of MdLandRec.net, and a index to patents.
Maryland Historical Mapping: How to Use Maryland Land Records. Covers many aspects of Maryland land records. Useful for searching for Maryland patents, maps showing locations of patents, and an ongoing list of lost burial grounds.
Maryland State Archives: Understanding Maryland Records: Land Records. Explanations of commonly used terms in land records.
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation: Real Property Data Search. Gives information about current owners of Maryland properties, including current deed information.
Maryland Land Records. Provides up to date access for all verified land record instruments in Maryland; includes extensive access to historical deeds. Provided by a partnership between the Maryland Judiciary, the 24 elected Court Clerks of Maryland, and the Maryland State Archives. Access is through a registered account free to anyone.
Plats.net. Provides access to all plats filed with the Land Office and Circuit Courts of Maryland. Users can search for plats currently in the custody of the Maryland State Archives. Many historic plats can be found on this site.
Other useful websites
The Legal Genealogist. This blog discusses the use of legal records in genealogy and provides historical context for understanding legal matters, including land records. Written by Judy G. Russell, a genealogist with a law degree.
Archive.org. An excellent resource for primary source materials of all kinds, including historical law dictionaries.
Library of Congress: Exploring County Landownership Maps. Blog post which includes a link to the Library of Congress’s holdings of US landownership maps, searchable by county and state.
Maryland State Archives: Descriptions of African American Records. Includes an explanation of manumission records at the Maryland State Archives. For the period between 1752 and 1790, a deed was the only legal document that could free a slave. The Maryland State Archives has a card index to these manumission records.
For further assistance email Julie Saylor at email@example.com