Source Information

Ancestry.com. Alaska, U.S., Land Patent Records, 1916-1969 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2022.
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About Alaska, U.S., Land Patent Records, 1916-1969

About the Alaska, U.S., Land Patent Records, 1916-1969

General collection information

This collection includes images of land patent records between 1916 and 1969 from Alaska. Types of records available may include:

  • Alaska Native allotment case files, which detail the transfer of public lands back to individual Alaska Natives
  • Correspondence relating to cases
  • Field examinations
  • Land status and use reports
  • Patent case files
  • Notices for patent applications
  • Land patent certificates
  • Patent registers
  • Records of homestead relinquishment
  • Using this collection

    This collection may include the following information:

  • Name of patentee or warrantee
  • Type of record
  • Location of land
  • Acreage of land
  • Date issued
  • Maps
  • Description of land
  • Patent number
  • Names of family members
  • Land patents records can provide a wealth of information. Land patents can pinpoint your family's home to a very specific location and can include precise descriptions of the land. Additionally, these descriptions can offer you clues about your family's lifestyle.

    Individuals associated with this collection may have been either patentees or warrantees. A patentee is someone who holds the title for a specific piece of land, while a warrantee is someone who has a claim to land in a general area, but is not yet titled. This is an important difference to note as warrantees often sold their warrants and may never have actually lived on that specific land patent.

    Collection in context

    Alaska is the traditional home of many Native peoples, including the Unungan (Aleut), Sugpiaq (Alutiiq), Yupik, Iñupiat, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and over ten linguistically distinct Dene groups (Athabascans). Advances in DNA studies are now showing that Indigenous Peoples have occupied Alaska for well over ten thousand years.

    In 1741 Vitus Bering and Alexei Chirikov explored parts of Alaska's coast (i.e., the Second Kamchatka Expedition) and discovered an abundance of fur-bearing mammals which triggered an exodus of promyshlenniki (Russian fur hunters) who invaded the Aleutian islands. To maximize profits, Russia granted the Russian American Company an exclusive charter for the right to oversee colonial operations in Alaska in 1799. Because they were primarily focused on sea otter pelts, Russian establishments were small and concentrated along Alaska’s coasts with only limited penetrations into the interior. Once the fur trade began to dwindle, Russia opted to sell their claim to Alaska to the United States in 1867 for the sum of seven million dollars.

    Because Russia's invasion of Alaska was so constrained, the U.S. inherited a very limited infrastructure to occupy and this, in turn, meant that any attempts to claim land thereafter would require a Euro-American population influx to compete with Alaska's Indigenous population who were then, a majority. Despite the best attempts of Protestant missionaries to promote settlement, beginning in 1877, and a fleeting population spike following the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896, Euro-Americans did not become a significant majority until after World War II brought federal spending in the territory along with military bases. To this day, Alaska remains sparsely populated with most of the population centralized in city-centers; over half of the entire population resides in the Anchorage area alone.

    In 1959, Alaska was granted statehood. When a territory becomes a state, public lands are ceded to the United States and the Federal government then distributes it to individuals via land patents. Land patents are land titles obtained by an individual directly from the government. Though most patents in Alaska were claimed by homesteading, others may have been obtained through the military, mineral or mining claims, timber claims, through land grants, or purchased by cash or credit. While land patents were made available in the District of Alaska in 1898, not many were claimed until Alaska became a territory in 1912.

    Bibliography

    Alaska Public Lands Information Centers. "Alaska's History." Last Modified March 15, 2022. https://www.alaskacenters.gov/explore/culture/history.

    Black, Lydia. Russians in Alaska, 1732-1867. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2004.

    Bureau of Land Management. "History of Alaska Homesteading." Last Modified 2022. https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/documents/files/PublicRoom_Alaska_Homesteading_Brochure_2016.pdf.

    Bureau of Land Management. "The Official Federal Lands Records Site." Last Modified September 3, 2018. https://glorecords.blm.gov/.

    Haycox, Stephen. Alaska: An American Colony. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 2002.

    Lindo, John., et al. "Ancient individuals from the North American Northwest Coast reveal 10,000 years of regional genetic continuity." PNAS 114 (April, 2017): 4093-4098.