Over 104,000 people received land in Nebraska through the Homestead Act. In 1913 alone nearly 2.5 million Nebraska acres were distributed to new homesteads. Now a decade of work is complete with over 1.6 million digital images of Nebraska Homestead Land Entry Case Files now available to the public and online. The records detail property improvements and tell us about the lives of our ancestors including what type of homes they lived in and what crops they grew. Some case files contain naturalization information, military service documents, and much more.
Intended to ensure those making land claims met the Homestead Act of 1862 legal requirements, these data-rich records are a boon to scholars, genealogists, and family historians. “Scholars are already able to see the value of the information found in these records. I predict that once all 30 homesteading state’s records are digitized and indexed they will lead to a new interpretation of history as it relates to the settlement of the American West,” said Rick Edwards, director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska.
Thanks to a unique and intensive collaboration between FamilySearch International, Fold3.com, Ancestry.com, the National Archives and Records Administration, and Homestead National Monument of America, these records can now be accessed through multiple methods, including:
- Visit a Family History Center. See http://familysearch.org/locations/centerlocator
- Visit www.fold3.com or www.ancestry.com
- Access through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries Electronic Resources
- Use Homestead National Monument of America’s research computers in Beatrice, NE.
- Visit National Archives and Records Administration research centers.
The work continues to prepare and digitize records from the other 29 homesteading states. Look to this blog for future announcements.