Records of the General Land Office

In their Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka describe a publication some of you may be familiar with: “The Territorial Papers of the United States is a multivolume documentary historical publication containing transcribed archival materials selected from many record groups of the National Archives. The objective of the series is to document the administrative history of the U.S. territories with texts that are annotated, exact, representative, and particularly significant.”[1]

For a bit more about the printed Territorial Papers and their microfilmed supplements, see the FamilySearch Research Wiki page dedicated to them. For the purposes of this brief article, it’s enough to know that the series ceased publication in 1975. At that point, the 28 volumes produced to date had transcribed only an estimated 5% of the total available material. Achieving the original objective of publishing the remaining 95% was understandably deemed impractical. Instead, the National Archives refocused its efforts on creating comprehensive guides for that material.[2]

The project continued as The Trans-Mississippi West, 1804–1912: A Guide to Federal Records for the Territorial Period, a six-volume set:

Pt. 1. A Guide to Records of the Department of State for the Territorial Period

Pt. 2. A Guide to Records of the Department of Justice for the Territorial Period

Pt. 3. A Guide to Records of the Department of Agriculture for the Territorial Period

Pt. 4. A Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period, Section 1: Records of the Offices of the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Railroads

Pt. 4. A Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period, Section 2: Records of Select Agencies

Pt. 4. A Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period, Section 3: Records of the General Land Office

All of the volumes have been digitized and are available from the HathiTrust catalog here: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/004026163.

Of perhaps greatest interest to genealogists is the sixth and final guide. And here, we finally come to the crux of this article: records of the General Land Office.

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