Friday, June 24, 2011

Homestead Records Digitization Project Update

http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/homestead-act/

Homestead National Monument of America is excited to announce that the homestead land entry case files digitization project has completed the imaging process for the records from the Omaha land office.  There are nearly two million homestead records currently housed in the National Archives.  Until now the only way to view these files was to request copies from the National Archives or physically go to Washington D.C. and perform your research.  The digitization project will allow public access to these records online.

The Monument and its partners began the painstaking process of digitizing the records of the Lincoln/Nebraska City land office in the summer of 2009.  The Lincoln/Nebraska City land office had 12,295 homestead files.  All of these files resulted in approximately 300,000 images of homestead paperwork that can be accessed by anyone curious about the lives of homesteaders.  The success of that project was encouraging and the partnership moved forward to the Omaha land office.  The Omaha land office had 6,350 homestead files which produced approximately 93,000 images.   The information in these documents will be an invaluable resource to scholars and genealogists attempting to research this complex period in American history. 
The project has moved forward.  The digitization of the Alliance, Nebraska land office records has already begun.  The Alliance land office has 4,222 homestead files which will produce approximately 76,000 images.  Each image is a document contained within the homesteaders file.  Documents range from the initial application to the final patented certificate.  These documents are all unique in that no homesteader’s story was the same.  Through these records we will be able to observe things like social and economic trends along with cultural and ethnic migration patterns.  This data will provide many answers, but, and maybe more importantly, it will lead to new questions.
If you are interested in accessing these records you can visit Homestead National Monument of America’s Heritage Center where access to the database is free to the public at designated research terminals.  Monument staff is on hand to assist those who have any questions. 

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