Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Course on Federal Land Records

I  am very excited to be teaching a course on “Digging in Federal Land Records” for the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. This course will be held on two consecutive Saturdays: September 19th and 26th. There will be four 90 minute sessions that will allow us to dig further into these records than the typical lectures on the subject. 

Millions of Americans obtained land from the federal government either by purchase, donation, military bounty, or homesteading. The records created by these land transactions can be valuable for locating an ancestor in a particular time and place, and may also contain useful family information. Some land files include a detailed description of improvements made to the land, evidence of military service, proof of naturalization, and/or testimony from neighbors. 
This course will cover the distribution of land in the thirty public land states to individuals from 1798 to 1976. The sessions will take an in-depth look at the process for obtaining land, the records created, and the genealogical value they contain. Students will learn about the surveying process and legal land descriptions, the Acts of Congress authorizing different types of transactions, the process for applying for land, and what can be found online and only onsite at NARA. 
The unique format of four 90 minute sessions will allow time to dig deeper into these records and look at not only typical files for each type of transaction, but unique circumstances as well. The “plus” version of the course will also include feedback on the homework assignments and an extra session for asking individual questions about federal land records. 
Saturday, September 19th
Session 1: Background: History, Land Descriptions, Laws and Records
Session 2: Locating Records: BLM Website, Tract Books and Finding Aids
Homework assignment given

Saturday, September 26th
Session 3: Homesteads, Land Entry Papers and Military Bounty Land
Session 4: Case Studies Using Federal Land Records

To register for the course visit
The cost is $69.99 for all four sessions, or $99.99 for all four sessions plus feedback on the homework and an additional sessions where you can ask any questions you may have on the course content or on federal land records. 


  1. Is it possible to pay for the session and access the content at a later date? I am committed to help with a wedding on the 26th of September, but would love to listen to these classes.

  2. Yes, the sessions will all be recorded and everyone who purchases the course will have access to the recordings. You can watch them live, or at your convenience.