Federal Land Records

Federal Land Records

Course Overview

The course Federal Land Records introduces you to the different types of land entries and discusses how land ownership was transferred from the federal government to an individual or group. More than three million people received patents from the government in the thirty public land states. The land application files may contain valuable information for genealogists including details on family members, neighbors, citizenship status, and land improvements.

Author: Angela Packer McGhie, CG
Prerequisites: None
Course: Online, cloud based
Price: NGS Members $75 Non-members $100

Course Description

In this course students will learn about the different types of land entries including cash entries,donation land, homesteads, and military bounty land. Federal Land Records covers details on the requirements for each type of transaction, which type of documents to expect in the land entry files, how to find out if an individual applied for federal land, and how to locate and order copies of the records.

The course is divided into eight modules with multiple sections, which include readings, web links, and self-correcting quizzes.  A full syllabus is provided to course registrants. The course modules are as follows.

  • Module 1—Introduction to Federal Lands
  • Module 2—Background and History
  • Module 3—Public Land Survey System
  • Module 4—Land Acquisition Process
  • Module 5—Records Created by the General Land Office
  • Module 6—Homestead Files
  • Module 7—Types of Federal Land Records
  • Module 8—Accessing Federal Land Records

About the Author

Angela Packer McGhie, CG is a professional researcher, lecturer, and instructor. She has been working with federal records at the National Archives for the last decade and specializes in federal land records. She also focuses on genealogy education and enjoys teaching at genealogy conferences, institutes, and in study groups.


Continuing Genealogical Studies Members Non-Members
Federal Land Records $75 $100
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Since the online courses under the Continuing Genealogical Studies category are cloud-based, you can take the course from home or anywhere at any time. You need either a computer or tablet with an internet connection to access the lessons, examples, exercises, and quizzes. No software or material is loaded onto your computer or tablet.

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NGS grants a license to an individual to take the course shown above. This grants the individual a personal, nonexclusive, nontransferable right to the course materials for that student’s personal educational use only. All students work independently.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Course?

The Continuing Genealogical Studies series courses have no set time or date for attendance. These online courses are geared toward individuals who have schedules that are varied and may include work, volunteer, and personal demands. You prioritize your time management and your learning, so your course work can be scheduled at your own pace.

Upon registration, you have access to the course for six months from the date of registration. If you need extra time, a one-time extension of three months is granted by contacting the NGS Course Administrator.

When Can I Start the Course?

Within three business days, you receive two separate emails, one that confirms your registration and one that provides log in instructions.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

All purchases of courses are final. No refunds or credits are available.


Here is a link to the Continuing Genealogical Studies: FAQs. If you have further questions, please contact the NGS Course Administrator.