GOOD DEEDS: STATE OF THE REGISTRY

By William P. O’Donnell Norfolk County Register of Deeds

        This year saw some significant milestones and achievements for the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. We were proud to release our third volume of Notable Lands Records, titled “We Remember Our Veterans,” in honor of the veterans of Norfolk County. Also, The Registry, in partnership with Quincy Access Television, achieved national recognition by winning the “Best of Experimental Access Center Professional” award at the 2023 Hometown Media Awards.

        The release of the “We Remember Our Veterans” booklet was commemorated with an open house with keynote speaker Secretary of Veteran Service Jon Santiago. The third edition of Notable Lands Records is a tribute to the brave men and women of Norfolk County, from the Revolutionary War to present-day peacekeepers. The booklet features detailed stories of veterans all throughout the 28 communities that make up Norfolk County. These individuals have led remarkable lives: several are Medal of Honor recipients; one was an experimental aircraft pilot; another served in three wars. The booklet outlines a history of the military branches as well as the four United States Presidents born in Norfolk County who served as commander-in-chief.

        The “Best of Experimental Access Center Professional” award is given to individuals or teams who have demonstrated exceptional creativity, innovation, and impact in their work and was presented by the Alliance for Community Media Foundation for the segment “History Comes Alive, Norwood Town Hall,” an extension of a History Comes Alive land record project at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. This award was for taped segments about landmarks around Norfolk County growing out of our “History Comes Alive” Transcription Project. This project took over 450,000 recorded cursive land documents and transcribed these documents into easy-to-read text. All land documents and indexes are available over the internet at the Registry’s website www.norfolkdeeds.org.

        Follow this YouTube link to watch the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds Year in Review segment on Quincy Access Television:  https://www.youtube.com/watch/bHXIGI-HAHg

        The Registry of Deeds is the principal office for real property records in Norfolk County. The Registry receives and records hundreds of thousands of documents annually. It houses more than 8.5 million land documents dating back to 1793. These land documents and the integrated Registry indexes to these land documents, dating back to 1793, are available to the public for on-line research at www.norfolkdeeds.org. The Registry is a primary and indispensable resource for title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipal officials, homeowners, title examiners, real estate attorneys, genealogists, and others with a need for land record information.

        The Registry operates under my supervision and management as the elected Register. I have held the position since 2002. In continuous operation for nearly two hundred and twenty-four years, dating back to President George Washington’s administration, the Registry’s mission has remained the same: to maintain and provide for accurate, reliable, and accessible land records to all residents and businesses of Norfolk County. The modernization initiatives implemented during my administration have created a sound business operation oriented toward quality customer service at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds.

        The Registry of Deeds Customer Service and Copy Center continues to provide residents and businesses with quality service. These requests included the filing of Homesteads, accessing deeds, verifying recorded property documents, and assisting those in need of obtaining a mortgage discharge notice. Customers can contact the Customer Service and Copy Center at 781-461-6101, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30AM to 4:30PM.

        In calendar year 2023, the Registry collected approximately $51.2 million in revenue. Out of that money, more than $45.7 million was apportioned to the Commonwealth, and more than $5.4 million was disbursed to Norfolk County in the form of deeds excise taxes, recording fees, and surcharges. There was $4,363,400 collected pursuant to the Community Preservation Act (CPA). In 2023 there were 102,188 documents recorded at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, a 21% decrease from 2022.

        The Norfolk Registry of Deeds was the first registry in Massachusetts to electronically record registered land documents in the Land Court section of the Registry of Deeds in 2017 and was crucial to remaining operational during the coronavirus pandemic. This year saw a record number of electronic recording filers, approximately 2,750.

        In 2023, we shelved Registry of Deeds Book 41575. At the end of 2023, we were processing the documents for Book 41583. For the sake of security and redundancy, we store our documents in three different ways: hard copy, electronically, and on microfiche.

        The internet library of images, accessible to the public through the Registry of Deeds’ online research system at norfolkdeeds.org, continues to expand. Today, all documents dating back to the first ones recorded in 1793 are available for viewing. This digital collection also consists of more than 450,000 handwritten documents recorded between 1793 and 1900 that were transcribed and are available to the public for viewing and research.

        Our website includes a genealogy page and a section highlighting land records of notable people, including United States Presidents, military heroes, noted authors, and leaders in their fields of education, environment, and law. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has plans to open up a Genealogy Research and Resource Center where patrons can come in to use our free databases such as Ancestry.com, and American Ancestors.

        The Registry’s website, www.norfolkdeeds.org, routinely updates the public on such news as real estate statistics, answers to frequently asked questions, along with detailing of our consumer programs. Additionally, a monthly column for various Norfolk County newspapers and their online websites is written. We also distribute a weekly press release to alert residents of the latest happenings as well as to remind them of our consumer services. If you are interested in receiving a Registry newsletter please sign up on the Registry’s website.

        The Registry’s free Consumer Anti Property Fraud Notification Service allows any county resident to opt in to this free notification service and be alerted when any land document – fraudulent or otherwise – is recorded against their name. Over 2,000 Norfolk County residences have signed up for this free service. For more information, please see our website at: www.norfolkdeeds.org.

        In 2023, we continued our partnerships with Interfaith Social Services of Quincy, Father Bill’s & MainSpring of Quincy, the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System Voluntary Service Program, Brockton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Circle of Hope in Needham, United Parish’s Thrifty Threads, St. Vincent de Paul in Plainville, Needham Community Council, St. Francis House in Boston, Suits and Smiles in Jamaica Plain, InnerCity Weightlifting and New Life Furniture Bank of Massachusetts in Walpole on our ‘Suits for Success’ program to assist those who are in need of clothing as well as household items.

        Our Annual Holiday Food Drive continues to support food pantries in Norfolk County. On our website, there is a list of Norfolk County food pantries, as they have a need all year. It was a privilege to partner up with the United States Marine Corps on our 16th Annual Christmas Toys for Tots campaign at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. Thank you to all of the residents and staff who helped make this program a success.

        It is a privilege for me and my fine Staff to serve each and every one of you. Be well and healthy in this new year.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is closed Today, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.