This morning in Advanced Land Records, we’re learning about the papers of the U.S. Government; a source which is under-utilized and yet rich with genealogical information. Much of the land records referenced in the published record of the U.S. Congress exist nowhere else.
- Continental Congress & Constitutional Convention Journals & Papers 1774–1789
- American State Papers 1789–1838
- U.S. Serial Set 15th Congress 1817–present
To be honest, I knew about these government papers before this morning’s lecture, but had never thought to seek them out. I misunderstood their purpose and content and certainly underestimated their value to my research. Now, thanks to Rick Sayre, I know better!
Rick made the interesting point this morning that, before we had the U.S. government structure we have today, a citizen’s only recourse for complaints and other issues with Congress was to go to congress and tell them. It was a more personal approach; and the journals and letters in these congressional papers often refer to common man. And, because so much of early American’s concerns involved their property, those papers often contain detailed information about land.
As a starting point, there is a searchable index of the table of contents for the American State Papers, at the Library of Congress’s website. You’ll also find digitized volumes of the papers at Internet Archive.