Thursday, September 8, 2016

Massachusetts Land Records Search - By Name

Reader Leah recently sent me a link to the Massachusetts Land Records website (, a site created and sponsored by the  Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The site says:

"Massachusetts is divided into 21 registry districts with an elected Register of Deeds responsible for each office. Documents related to the ownership of real estate within the district are recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Recorded documents are assigned a sequential identifying number (known as the book and page number) and are then scanned into the registry's computer system. The resulting images are available for viewing on and printing from public access terminals at the registry and at your home or office over the Internet. In addition, all registries microfilm all recorded documents and most continue to produce record books containing document images on paper. In most cases, original documents are returned to the land owner. To assist customers in finding relevant documents, registries create a searchable index that contains the names of all parties to a document and the property address."

1)  I was curious as to how this worked, so I clicked on the map link for North Worcester, and saw information about the Worcester Northern Registry of Deeds:

There are four blue buttons for:

*  Search by Name or Address
*  Search Registry Records
*  Search Land Court Records
*  Search Plans

2)  I wanted to see if my uncle's home was in the land records, so I clicked on the "Search by Name or Address" button.  That opened the Search fields.  I put "Seaver" in the Last Name field and "Edward" in the First Name field:

I clicked on the "Search" button below the search fields (not shown above), and saw the list of transactions for my uncle in the database:

The Date Range available, according to the screen above, is from January 1, 1949 to the current date and time.

3)  I can see that he had nine transactions recorded in these records, including a mortgage and deed recorded in 1950 in Leominster, a deed for Hale Street recorded in 1961 (he sold that home), a deed and mortgage recorded in 1961 for a house on Helena Street, several more transactions until 1984, when a Deed sold the house on Helena Street.

The list above provides the Name, the Reverse Party, the Town, the Date Received, the Document Type, the Document Desc[ription], the Book-Page, and links for ABS and View-Prt.

4)  I clicked on the View-Prt for the 1961 Deed transaction and saw:

The page above provides links to view or download the entire document or individual pages.

I clicked on the "View Image Online" link on the first line and all three pages for the document appeared (only partially shown below):

I also clicked on the "Download" link for the document and a TIF file was downloaded to my computer, which I renamed and saved in my uncle's family file folder.

5)  This is a really neat website for persons interested in land transactions recorded from 1949 until the present time.  Obviously, this is intended for real estate title searches, but it is very useful for 20th and 21st century land record information.

Apparently, this search for Northern Worcester County is different in look and feel than the other sites for other counties - even for the rest of Worcester County.  When I tried to see documents in the rest of Worcester County, I couldn't because of a popup blocker (it said).  So - your experience may vary!

6)  I want to explore the "Search Registry Records" next for specific addresses - especially for the homes that I know my Seaver and related families resided in, including the Norman Seaver house in Westminster.  I will report on this in another post.

7)  Does your state and county of interest have a land records database like this?  Have you used them?  You might want to investigate if they do!

Thank you to Leah for telling me about this specific service!!  This is another example of my readers knowing about resources and sharing them with me and my readers.


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Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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Leah Smith said...

Randy, I use the Worcester County, Massachusetts records on that site quite often. Under "Search Criteria" in the upper left-hand corner of the page, are Pre 1960 Grantor and Grantee Indexes dating back to 1731. Using the information from these indexes, (date, name, Deed Book Number, and Page Number,)you can view images of deeds dating back to 1731 and going forward to 1960.
Why are these so valuable to Genealogists?
The often give the first name of the wife of the landholder, and the names of the owners of the neighboring properties.
They may contain Quit Claims naming living descendants of the landholder.
I have also found a marriage contract which was interesting.
There are sometimes copies of Death Certificates. This is one of my "Go To" sites for death dates of people who died in Worcester County between 1920 and 1960.

Marian Pierre-Louis said...


Please note for yourself and your readers that each county's database on are individually provided and maintained by each county. Worcester County is the unusual exception in that ALL of their records are digitized and indexed and available online. That will not be the case with other counties. Most counties only go back to 1900 at most online - luckily that is just enough so that we can switch to the Massachusetts Land Record images on FamilySearch.

When searching the county databases, researchers should click on the advanced search option to see the start date of available indexed deeds. Often times images are available that aren't indexed but you have to know the book and page number to access those.