You may not wear a Deerstalker cap, smoke a pipe, or have a best friend named Watson, but you still might have something in common with the great detective named Sherlock Holmes. And that’s the ability to solve a good mystery.
Today, millions of Americans are on the hunt for clues to find out more about themselves and their family’s background. And the search for answers may just lead you right to the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. Thanks in part to our History Comes Alive program.
As we all know, the subject of genealogy is growing by leaps and bounds. According to an ABC News report, genealogy is ranked the second most popular hobby in the United States. Genealogy websites get more than 100 million hits per year. But its popularity doesn’t end there. There are also genealogical television shows, college courses, and DNA tests. So, therefore, we really shouldn’t be surprised by a survey that showed 78% of people want to explore their roots.
One of the first places you can start your genealogical travels is the Registry of Deeds. We have a wealth of information with cutting-edge technology to help you. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds possesses approximately 10,000,000 land records, recorded in 41,416 Registry books dating back to when the county was created in 1793. Some of these records include deeds, liens, foreclosures, mortgages, conveyances, trusts, and mortgage discharges.
What can you learn from these documents? Plenty. You can discover where a family member lived. What they generally paid for the property by looking at the mortgage (be prepared for sticker shock)! When they sold it and to whom. And if while owning the property they faced any financial burdens such as an attempted foreclosure or having a lien placed on their home. However, you might also say “That sounds like great information, but it's impractical for me to get to the Registry given my work schedule.” Well, thanks to technology that’s no longer a problem, you can do it from the comfort of your home computer or cell phone 24/7. Just go to the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds website www.norfolkresearch.org hit the Search for Your Deed button and type in the name you are looking for. If they had owned property in Norfolk County you will find records all the way back to the 1700’s. We make this research process even easier for you through our History Comes Alive Transcription Program where all the Registry documents from 1793 to 1900 are transcribed from old cursive writing into clearly readable and easy-to-read and print.
And how invaluable is this first in New England transcription program to a researcher? Well, here are the words of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, “I say this as one who has spent a great deal of my working life struggling to read original letters, and other old documents…. you are making an important contribution and I send to you my warmest congratulations.”
The future will hold even greater opportunities for those who want to explore their family’s trees. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has plans to open up a Genealogy Research Center where patrons can come in to use our free databases such as Ancestry. Com, American Ancestors, and the digital records from the Massachusetts Archives. It’s our hope to continue to add local historical databases to the collection when up and running. At the Norfolk Registry of Deeds, we love a good mystery. We hope we can help you on your genealogical adventure.