The Homestead Act: 
Free land and getting a new start in life

The 1862 Homestead Act was remarkable for many reasons. One of them was that it allowed a very broad array of people to obtain land. This included both current citizens and people who wanted to become citizens. Perhaps even more remarkable was that it gave both women and minorities, including African-Americans, opportunities to obtain free land. This happened before they had other legal rights. Learn More >>

African-American Homestead Family, Nebraska, 1887; Courtesy of the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, image F-21227


Homestead Act 1862-2012


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Opportunities for Land Ownership: A Video With BLM Archaeologist 
Robert King

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Changes to the Homestead Act: A Video With BLM Archaeologist Robert King

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Homesteading Questions and Answers


Homesteading Facts


Homesteading's Economic Opportunities for Women 
and Minorities

The 1862 Homestead Act was very remarkable for its time because it allowed women the same rights to homestead as men. They had to be either the head of a household or over 21 years old. Married men were usually considered to be the head of the household. If a woman’s husband died before he had received patent to a homestead claim, the widow could then complete the process and obtain the land in her own name.  Learn More>>
Alaskan Homesteader Elisabeth Smith


Homesteading as a Spark to the Settlement of New Areas and 
Economic Growth 

Homesteading, at its core, was an American phenomenon. It can be seen as an embodiment of the American Dream. Its principles validated core American values such as, “Hard work is the path to success.” It seemed to prove that America was a land of unbounded opportunity.  Learn More>>

Homesteaders Pose for a Photo