Land records can reveal how the land was used over time, how the boundaries and natural features of the property have changed, and who the previous owners were.
The Original Entry Tract Books
Created by the U.S. General Land Office are not digitized, but they are available on microfilm at the library. These records provide a consolidated record of the initial transfer of title from the United States to private parties or to the state. The price of the parcel of land, original purchaser, number of the homestead certificate or other authorizing document, date the final patent was issued, name of patentee, and citation to the entry in the land patent records in the U.S. General Land Office records in the National Archives are included in this resource.
MNHS call number: SAM 46
County Property Tax & Assessment Rolls
MNHS has county property and tax assessment rolls for certain counties for certain years. These records record the historical value of taxable real and personal property. Entries typically give the owner’s name; school district number; type of property (agricultural, homestead, household, business); and the property’s total full, assessed, and equalized valuations. The real property sections additionally give the legal description of the property and the values of acreage, structures, machinery, and related items. The personal property sections additionally give the post office address and the valuations of various categories of personal property, including household goods, personal possessions, transportation vehicles, business property, financial assets, agricultural products, livestock, and farm machinery.
To access, search the library catalog by [county name] tax or [county name] assessment.
The legal transfer of parcels of land from the U.S. Government to individuals. A patent will include the date, legal description of land, patent number, and office that issued the patent.
Deed and Mortgage Books:
A deed is a document providing evidence of ownership. Mortgage books list the value of the property. They also provide you with a timeline for the construction of property on the land (i.e. mortgages will begin to be paid when a house or other structure is added to the property).
Gale Family Library
Minnesota Historical Society Library
Located on the Second Floor of the Minnesota History Center
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 4pm
Sunday to Wednesday: Closed