Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Essex County (MA) Deeds Online (Volumes 1-20)

I saw the post last Friday by Ruy Cardoso on the Essex County (MA) Mailing List about a Finding Aid for early colonial Essex County (MA) Deeds. I was intrigued by his post.

Ruy's Finding Aid is for Volume 20 (deeds registered in the 1705 to 1710 time frame) - which consists of a long alphabetical list of the deed principals providing the volume and page number - and was a volunteer effort on his part. He is to be highly commended for doing this!

Of course, the researcher wants the actual deed image online - and Ruy indicated that the first 20 volumes of these Essex County Deeds are available in .TIF format at http://www.salemdeeds.com/historic.asp. If you input a volume number and page number into the Search box, you can see (and save) an image of the page from the Deed books. The ones I observed "looked" excellent - very clear writing on a white background - but still colonial handwriting! This is a tremendous resource.

The Essex Society of Genealogists (ESOG, of which I am a proud member) has published a book of Essex County (MA) Deed Abstracts for Volumes 1-4 - you can order it here.

In order to find a deed in the online database, you have to know the Volume and Page number(s) of the deed. That is where Ruy's finding aid for Volume 20 is helpful - but it is for only that volume.

So where can you find the volume and page number for Essex County deeds for a certain surname? By far the easiest way is to rent the microfilms from the LDS Family History Library - the FHL Catalog has three volumes of Grantee indexes for 1639 to 1799, three volumes of grantors for 1639 to 1799, and 85 films for the period from 1639 to 1799. Volume 20 is on FHL Microfilm 0,866,023.

I have done this microfilm process for many of my Essex County ancestors, but not for all of them. Searching Ruy's Finding Aid turned up at least 20 deeds for my ancestors in Volume 20 alone. I have several of them from my microfilm searches, but not nearly all of them. I can now "collect" the ones in Volume 20 thanks to Ruy and www.SalemDeeds.com.

This collection of deeds, and the alphabetical list of grantees and grantors in Ruy's Finding Aid, are examples of what volunteer organizations can achieve by working together. In the future, when all of the LDS Microfilms have been digitized, indexed and placed online we will be able to visit the indexes and the deeds online.

Are there other counties or states that have Deed records online? If so, tell me! Is there a reference list capturing online Deed records (similar to Joe's www.militaryindexes.com, for instance)?

1 comment:

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