How to Search Family History in BLM Records Oregon/Washington BLM



How to Search Family History in BLM Records

Searching for records related to your family’s history can be a fascinating and rewarding process. Like any research project, there are many ways to approach the work. Below are some tips on where to look, what to look for, and what you might find.

Names, Patents, Dates and File Numbers

At the BLM’s public room you can find names, patents, dates and file numbers for settlers, claimants, and purchasers of public lands in Oregon and Washington.

Online Patent Searches

Many of these can be found through Automated Records Web site.

Land Descriptions for Locating Records

Information about settlers' entries, claims and purchases is filed by township, range and section descriptions. You must identify land descriptions for locating records as an alphabetical listing of settlers is not maintained.

Maps Available

A township, range and section map is posted for your use. You can also buy maps at this office and may request a map index along with prices. This information is also available thru our web site.

Searching Master Title Plat And Historical Index Records

You can search master title plat and historical index records for patent numbers and dates if you have the legal description including specific subdivision. Settlers names are not on these records.

Searching Homestead, Donation Land Claim And Other Survey Records

There may be information about settlers in either regular or special survey notes or plats. Because some settlers, entrymen, and purchasers occupied lands prior to the regular surveys, special surveys of those homesteads and donation land claims were required.

Reading Patents

Patents, similar to deeds, are the legal instruments used by the Federal Government to transfer Federal lands to private ownership. They show names of patentees, describe lands transferred, legal authority, rights granted, rights reserved to the U.S., and dates. After you identify the township, range and patent number from the master title plat, historical index or tract book records you can read the microfilm patent documents on the viewers at this office.

Purchasing Copies Of Patents And Other Records Maintained At This Office

You may buy copies in person of patents and other records kept at this office. The master title plats, cadastral survey plats and historic indexes are now available in digital formats. Refer to the pricelist for further information regarding costs and options. Further information on ordering copies of survey records is included in a separate leaflet available from this office or available on-line.


A schedule of copy and other fees is available from this office. Please refer to our Costs and Services page for available document formats and costs.

Requesting Copies of Settler's Papers from GSA, National Archives and Record Services

You may purchase copies of settlers' applications, citizenship, military, entry and other such papers filed for transactions entered on BLM land records. These papers are stored in individual files at the General Services Administration's National Archives and Record Services Centers:

Other Genealogical Sources

Several publications which describe genealogical records are available to you at the above National Archives address. Local libraries and genealogical or historical societies also have publications to aid your research. Some list settlers' names and vital statistics. County conveyance records and private title services can also be used for searching the chain of record ownership or land titles after they passed from Federal ownership