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United States Land and Property

Maps are used to locate the places where your ancestors lived. They identify political boundaries, names of places, geographical features, cemeteries, churches, and migration routes. Historical maps are especially useful for finding communities that no longer exist.

Maps are available from the National Archives, the Library of Congress, county agencies, and other libraries and historical societies.

Contents

Land Ownership Maps

Government or commercial agencies have created numerous maps showing the names of land owners in an area. These are often called “cadastral” maps. They sometimes include other helpful details such as churches, cemeteries, and roads. An inventory of many of the land ownership maps is:

  • Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division. Land Ownership Maps: A Checklist of Nineteenth Century United States County Maps in the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1967. (FHL book 973 A3Loc; fiche 6048262.)

Some of these maps are found under:

  • Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division. Land Ownership Maps. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1983. (On 2,010 FHL fiche starting with 6079238.)

Plat Maps

The county or town offices that maintain land and property records often have plat books containing maps of property boundaries and land ownership within the county.
Arphax Publishing Co., Norman, Oklahoma offers patent maps.

Also see Federal Plats section under “Obtaining a Legal Description of the Land” for information about the federal township plats.


Surveys

A surveyor’s drawing of the legal description of the land is called a “survey” or “plat.” Some of these were recorded and some were kept as loose papers. No land could be owned by an individual until it was surveyed.

Homestead surveys for several states are available online.

Land Survey Information System helps plot rectangular survey land (township, range, secton).



Locating Township and County Boundaries

Maps of modern county boundaries are in :

  • The Handybook for Genealogists, United States of America. 11th ed. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 2006.
  • Eichholz, Alice, ed. Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. Provo, Utah: Ancestry. 2004.

Maps and an index of townships and other present-day civil boundaries are in:

  • Andriot, Jay. Township Atlas of the United States. McLean, Virginia: Documents Index, 1991. (FHL book 973 E7an 1991.)

Detailed maps and legal histories of county formations and changes are found in:

  • Long, John H., editor. Historical Atlas and Chronology of County Boundaries, 1788-1980. Five Volumes. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall, 1984. (FHL book 973 E7hL; fiche 60514226-30.) The states included are Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • MapofUS.org
  • Massachusetts Genealogy 101 has maps showing boundary changes in Massachusetts and is also a good research site for Massachusetts.





Web Sites

References

  • Andriot, Jay. Township Atlas of the United States. McLean, Virginia: Documents Index, 1991.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Land and Property." United States Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1988, 2002.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Maps." United States Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1988, 2002.
  • Eichholz, Alice, ed. Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. Provo, Utah: Ancestry. 2004.
  • Greenwood, Val. Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. 3rd ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000, 2003.
  • The Handybook for Genealogists, United States of America. 11th ed. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 2006.
  • Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division. Land Ownership Maps. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1983.
  • Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division. Land Ownership Maps: A Checklist of Nineteenth Century United States County Maps in the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1967.
  • Long, John H., editor. Historical Atlas and Chronology of County Boundaries, 1788-1980. Five Volumes. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall, 1984.
  • Luebking, Sandra Hargreaves. “Land Records,” in Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, eds. The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. 3rd ed. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006.
  • Stephenson, Richard W. Land Ownership Maps. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1967.
  • Wilford, John Noble. The Mapmakers. Rev. ed. Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.



 

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  • This page was last modified on 17 May 2014, at 21:47.
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