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Land and Property History Research

Contact Information
Need help? Contact us at:

ref@tsl.texas.gov
or
512-463-5455

 
Introduction

Researching the history of a property or structure involves compiling information from a variety of sources. Below are sources to consider as you develop your research strategy.

Map of Neighborsville in Comal County

“Map of Neighborsville in Comal County,” #1651, Map collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Land Grants

Land grants refer to real property that was originally obtained from a government entity. Early Texas land grant records are maintained by the General Land Office (GLO). Visit the Texas General Land Office Land Grant Search "" to search by name, county, and more. For help with your research, contact the GLO Archives and Records Division "".

Divisions or transfers of property ownership, often resulting from sale or inheritance, are filed in the counties where the land is located. The section below on Deeds, Surveys, Blueprints explains how to find these types of local records.

Deeds, Surveys, Blueprints

Most property records are not considered state records. Real property records, including deeds, surveys, liens, and tax records, are maintained by the county where the property is located. You will want to contact the County Clerk’s office for help locating records. The local city planning or building office might have recorded and kept blueprints. The County Clerk may also be aware of a local source for blueprints of a structure. You can find County Clerk addresses on the County and District Clerks’ Association of Texas website "".

Some counties have property records available online. The Texas Association of Counties has links to Texas county websites "".

Every county differs in how older records were maintained. Some records may be available through the TSLAC Regional Historical Resource Depository Program (RHRD), as various county records for many Texas counties were microfilmed in collaboration with the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) to facilitate preservation and access through local depositories.

TSLAC has a listing of County Records on Microfilm posted on our website. Check for the county you are researching and the types of records which have been filmed. Contact the repository listed or your local library about options for accessing the reels through the interlibrary loan program.

Many county records from the RHRD program have been digitized by FamilySearch. You can search for collections on the FamilySearch catalog "" by county name using the “Place” field or by reel number using the “Film/Fiche/Image Group Number” field. Some of the digital records are available to access online with a free FamilySearch account. Other records must be accessed through a Family History Center or FamilySearch Affiliate Library "".

An image of the FamilySearch logo, containing a stylized tree with boxes for leaves and text in green of FamilySearch

TSLAC’s Austin and Liberty locations are FamilySearch affiliate libraries.

Property Tax Records

County tax rolls provide information on the amount of land and personal property an individual owned and can include assessments of real and personal property, poll taxes, and other county and state taxes.

County tax rolls on microfilm are available for on-site use at our agency from the early years of each county. We have tax rolls for some counties through the late 1970s. Visit our Texas County Tax Rolls webpage for more information.

Some digitized tax rolls are available on FamilySearch in the collection “Texas, County Tax Rolls, 1837-1910"". You may search for a name or click the button “Browse all 678,887 images” to select and browse a county and year of interest. Images are available to view with a free FamilySearch account.

Many individual appraisal districts have assessed property value and tax due information available for their own appraisal area. The Comptroller of Public Accounts website has links to appraisal district websites on their webpage for local property appraisal and tax information "".

Maps

Maps may indicate property ownership. You can search the Texas State Archives Map Collection database by location or year. For an overview of the collection, search options, and our photocopy policy, please review our Map Collection Introduction.

The Portal to Texas History "" hosted by the University of North Texas offers digital maps from collections held in Texas libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, and private collections. The collection includes early Texas maps showing landowners.

The University of Texas Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection "" has links to online maps.

The Texas General Land Office Map Database and Store "" has maps to search and purchase. The collection includes early Texas maps showing landowners.

Fire Insurance Maps

These detailed maps were created to determine fire insurance rates for cities and towns. Today they are used by researchers looking for information on what a town or property used to look like.

TSLAC has a collection of fire insurance maps that were created by or for the Texas Department of Insurance Fire Marshal's Office. Search our collection of fire insurance maps by location or map type.

Researchers often request Sanborn Map Company Fire Insurance Maps. The Library of Congress Sanborn Maps Collection Guide "" includes a searchable database of published maps and helpful research tips.

The University of Texas at Austin Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection has digitized and posted images of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps "" for Texas from 1877-1922.

The ProQuest database “Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970” is available through the TexShare Databases program. Check with your local library about available databases. Access to the TexShare Databases is available at our library in Austin, Texas and to registered TSLAC patrons.

Other Resources

City directories include information on who lived at or owned a property in a certain year. For more information, see our City Directory Research guide.

The library for the community where the property or structure is located may have additional resources of interest. Search for local libraries using the Find A Library tool on our website.

The Austin History Center has a guide to Real Property Information Sources "" in Travis County. Although the guide is specific to Austin, it is an excellent guide on beginning research in your own community.

Page last modified: April 11, 2024