Alaska Land Records

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
Alaska sil.png
the Alaska Family History Research series.
History of Alaska
Alaska Vital Records
Census Records for Alaska
Background Sources for Alaska
Alaska Maps
Alaska Land Records
Alaska Probate Records
Alaska Court Records
Alaska Tax Records
Alaska Cemetery Records
Alaska Church Records
Alaska Military Records
Alaska Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Alaska Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Alaska Immigration
Alaska Naturalization
Native Alaskans
Alaska District Resources
Map of Alaska

Alaska is a Public-Domain State.

The First Organic Act of 1884 extended the laws of Oregon to Alaska only 'so far as [they] may be applicable.' Alaska became public domain, and unclaimed land was surveyed by the federal government and sold. Land offices were established at Sitka in 1885, Juneau in 1902, and Nome in 1907.

A person could obtain a title to a tract of public land only after it had been surveyed. After an individual obtained a certificate of title, a patent was issued. Copies of these are in patent books in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Washington, D.C. (see page 6).

Records for the land offices of Juneau, Nome, and Sitka include cash entries, homestead final certificates, canceled homestead entries, and canceled Indian allotments. The BLM in Washington, D.C., has these records as well as an index to the cash entry files for Alaska.

Patents, tract books, and township plats are on file at the BLM, 222 W. 7th Ave. #13, Anchorage, AK 99513-7599.

The National Archives'Pacific Alaska Region has records of the surveyor general of the territory of Alaska. These records generally include correspondence and applications from settlers for land or mineral surveys (Fairbanks, Copper River, and Seward Meridians). Copies of the tract books, township plats, and other records of the U.S. General Land Office (GLO, forerunner to the BLM) can be found here.

Land records outside the BLM are available at the Division of Lands, Department of Natural Resources, 550 W. 7th Ave., Ste. 1260, Anchorage, AK 99501-3551. The DNR also has land records online by locality at The Alaska State Archives has descriptions and maps of mining claims.

Land transferred by sale or grant to private ownership could be sold again, inherited, or lost. These records are filed at the office of the district recorder in each judicial district (see Alaska District Resources), which is similar to a county recorder in other states. Some land records are also available in the Territorial Era District Court records.