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Source Information

Ancestry.com. U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Various publishers of County Land Ownership Atlases. Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

About U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918

Land ownership maps are portrayals of land purchased, granted, or inherited. They range in complexity from rough outlines of the boundaries of one tract of land to detailed county atlases showing every landowner at the time of compilation.

A key element sets county land ownership atlases apart from most other maps: they list property owners’ names. They also indicate township and county boundaries and can include photos of county officers, landholders, and some buildings and homes.

This database contains approximately 1,200 U.S. county land ownership atlases from the Library of Congress’ Geography and Maps division, covering the years 1860-1918. The original microfilms have recently been rescanned to improve image quality and legibility where possible. These maps can be searched by:

  • State
  • County
  • Year
  • Owner's name

Why Use County Land Owner Atlases:

These maps are valuable to genealogists because they often contain the names of landowners, they predate topographic maps, and they show important historical township and county boundaries.

More About County Land Ownership Atlases:

"While city atlases served a specialized clientele, their rural counterparts, known as county landownership atlases, were a commercial enterprise promoted by subscription campaigns and directed to a wider audience. Based on the pre-Civil War production of wall-sized, single-sheet county landownership maps, atlases showing landownership developed into a popular atlas format starting in the 1860s in the northeastern United States, and expanding into the Midwestern states by the 1870s and 1880s. These commercially published atlases contain cadastral or landownership maps for the individual townships within a county. In addition, they often include county and township histories, personal and family biographies and portraits, and views of important buildings, residences, farms, or prized livestock." ("Atlases." Geography and Maps: An Illustrated Guide. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/guide/gmilltoc.html.)

Some of the above information was taken from Schiffman, Carol Mehr. “Geographic Tools: Maps, Atlases, and Gazetteers.” Kory L. Meyerink, editor. Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Inc., 1998).

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