Everyone hits a brick wall, where the birth and death records just aren’t easy to find. In that case, try some different records, for instance, land records. Deeds often contain information on who sold what to whom; who inherited what from whom; or how some land was divided among them in a family. Taxes on land also sometimes have interesting information.
Most state archives have land records, and many have an online way to search the index and then order a copy of the record you want for a small fee. Also, the Bureau of Land Management has launched an enhanced online image library that combines thousands of digital photographs of landscapes and historical images of the American West.
The BLM Image Library, available through the BLM Website at http://photos.blm.gov, contains more than 60,000 images of public lands, mostly in 12 Western states, including Alaska. A special collection maintained by the BLM’s National Operations Center includes 3,600 historical photos dating back to the early surveys of the West.
Users are able to search state and national collections by keyword or descriptions, then download images in a variety of sizes. A “shopping cart” feature allows users to collect a number of images and then download all in a compressed folder.
Among the images are thousands of illustrations of areas managed by the BLM, including National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, and popular recreation areas. The collection also includes spectacular images of the agency’s vast landscape resources, as well as images of multiple uses and resources managed by the BLM, including livestock grazing, mineral development, energy production, wild horses and burros, wildfire, and cultural sites.
So, the next time you are stuck in your research, use land records to break through!