Land Records – Federal Government

Donation Land Claims (DLC)

Under terms of an 1850 act, certain white settlers and Indians of mixed blood in Oregon Territory (then including Washington), and certain settlers arriving between Dec. 1, 1850 and Dec. 1, 1853, were entitled to land. The number of acres granted (between 160 to 640) depended on the marital status of the settler and the date of settlement. Settlers were required to live on the land and cultivate it for 4 years.

The Oregon donation files for each land office (Oregon City, Roseburg and The Dalles) are filed in two numerical series. One relates to complete entries, the other to incomplete or cancelled entries. Documents in a DLC file for a completed entry include the:

  • Notification of settlement, which describes the land either by legal description (township, range, section and fraction of section) or by natural features (metes and bounds), sometimes accompanied by a plat.
  • Affidavit of settlement, which includes date and place of birth and, if applicable, of marriage as well as proofs of cultivation.
  • Oath that the land had been used for cultivation only.
  • Proof of citizenship for naturalized persons (not filmed on National Archives film M815).
  • Donation certificate, which shows name of entryman, place of residence, description of land, date of patent and volume and page number of the recorded patent in the National Archives.

State Archives Resources

  • Oregon Donation Land Files, 1851-1903 (National Archives (NARA) microfilm M815)
  • Oregon Donation Land Claims, vol. I-V, 1851-1903 (Reference Library publication)
  • Oregon Donation Land Claim File Index (Reference Library publication)
  • Oregon Donation Land Claim Abstracts (NARA microfilm M145)
  • Washington Donation Land Claims, 1851-1903 (NARA microfilm M203)

Other Resourc​es

Oregon Donation Land Claim Index (Gen​ealogical Forum of Oregon)

Homestead Records

Under the Homestead Act of 1862, citizens and persons who filed their intentions to become citizens were given 160 acres of land in the public domain if they fulfilled certain conditions. In general, an applicant had to build a home on the land, reside there for 5 years and cultivate the land.

The homestead entry papers filed by name of land office are dated 1863 through June 30, 1908. Typically, there are two separately numbered series for each land office, one relating to complete and the other relating to incomplete homestead entries. A complete homestead entry file includes such documents as:

  • Homestead application
  • Certificate of publication of intention to make a claim
  • Homestead proof, consisting of testimonies of two witnesses and the testimony of the claimant
  • Final certificate authorizing the claimant to obtain a patent
  • Copy of naturalization proceedings or a copy of a Union veteran's discharge certificate (when appropriate)

Records From the Bureau of Land Management and the National Archives

  1. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records
    Includes Homestead land patent abstracts and images of homestead documents.

  2. Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Offic​e​
  3. Textual Reference Branch - Land (NWDT1)
    National Archives
    Washington, DC 20408
When contacting th​e Textual Reference Branch-Land provide the name of the land office, the type of land transaction (cash sales, credit sale, homestead entry) and the file number. The name of the entryman, state and complete township/range description is also acceptable.

If you know the property description for land in Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Portland may provide you with the information to access the land entry files at the Textual Reference Branch - Land.