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The Nevada State Archives Land Patent Project

by Liz Moore on 2024-03-29T14:44:00-07:00 in Archives Topics, Land Use, Nevada | 0 Comments


Nevada State Land Patents are state conveyance documents created on the initial transfer of land titles from the State government to individuals. Official records of patents for lands were issued by the Nevada Surveyor General or State Land Registrar. The original copy was issued to the individual for filing with the county recorder and recorded in the Secretary of State’s office in one of 24 volumes dating 1865-1995. Each includes the name of patentee, description of land granted by patent, patent number, and date.

Black and white image of a handwritten land patent signed by the Governor and Secretary of State

State Land Patent, October 12, 1875

The switch to working from home during much of 2020 and into 2021 provided the staff of the Nevada State Archives the chance to tackle an interesting project in collaboration with the Nevada Division of State Lands. The two agencies had discussed a “dream project” of providing access to Nevada State Land Patents through a GIS layer on an online map of the state. The events of 2020 allowed the opportunity for this dream to become a reality.

For many years, copies of these documents were made by retrieving the volume containing the requested patent from the Archives’ vault, making a photocopy, and then sending the copy by fax. This task led to wear and tear on the historic patent volumes. The Archives’ staff then began saving the copied documents in a file, organized by patent, volume, and page number. If a duplicate request came in, that copy could then be retrieved and faxed without having to pull the original again. Copies were only made upon request at this time so a full run of patents was not readily available.

A grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) helped to fund a digital platform for records of the Nevada State Library and Archives in 2011. At that time, all 24 volumes of the Nevada State land patents were digitized, indexed, and uploaded to the web. This provided 24/7 access to land patents without having to contact the Nevada State Archives. However, issues with that digital platform a few years later meant the records needed to be migrated to a new site and some of the search functionality was lost. This is when the staff of the Nevada State Archives and Nevada State Lands began discussing the dream of having a Nevada GIS land patent map.

Nevada State Archives staff working from home in 2020 and 2021 created a spreadsheet of unique URLs for each of the more than 13,700 Nevada State land patents on the digital platform. Once complete, this spreadsheet went to the staff of Nevada State Lands, who created the GIS layer with links to the patent images. Nevada State land patents are now searchable by patentee name, patent number, or can be found just by clicking on a specific portion of the Nevada map. View the Patent Search Map here:

This search is for patents issued by Nevada State Government. In order to search for patents issued by the United States, a researcher will need to go to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management website here:

State Land Patent Exhibit

We invite you to visit the State Archives from April 1st to June 28th to learn more about these documents and the history of land ownership in Nevada. Original land patent volumes will be available for viewing in the Research Room exhibit cases. The State Archives is open to visitors from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for state holidays.

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