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Tracing Land Ownership Over Time: Forwards, Backwards, and from the Middle (Land)

June 10 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm EDT


Land ownership records can provide numerous clues not only about family relationships but also about the individuals themselves and the area they lived in.  They can be used to help reconstruct neighborhoods at a given point in time to assist with F.A.N. (Friends, Associates, Neighbors) research as conceived by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

In order to do this, one needs to know who owned a particular parcel of land at a given time period, or at least who lived there.  This information primarily comes from conveyances: the transfer of ownership of a specific piece of land from one party to another using deeds, land grants, or other methods.  These records theoretically should exist for every transfer, but unfortunately they don’t.   Records get lost due to natural or human-caused catastrophes, deeds never get recorded as they should, and in the case of inheritance they may not even be required.

This lecture will discuss determining land ownership by either starting from the original owner and working forwards in time, or from the owner today and working backwards.  You can also start at any point in between and trace ownership in either direction.  We will start with ideal examples where all records are present, and then discuss what to do when they are not.  Creating neighborhood maps of the results will briefly be discussed.

We will also discuss how to use new Artificial Intelligence tools to assist in this process.


June 10
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm EDT
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David M. McCorkle


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