Register O’Donnell Announces Historic Transcription Project

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is going back in time, 1793 to be exact. Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell today announced a project to modernize all handwritten deed documents dating back to when George Washington was President.

"The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been in existence for over 200 years. During that time, the Registry has gone from days of scriveners with quill pens to the modern era of computers and advanced document imaging. This project is an effort to transcribe images of handwritten deed documents dating back from 1793 to 1900," noted O'Donnell.

The Registry, which is one of the first in the country to transcribe handwritten deed documents back to Revolutionary times, is managing a massive undertaking. These 207 years of transcriptions total more than 250,000 deeds, resulting in 12.5 million  lines of print. O'Donnell noted that half of the handwritten deeds are already on-line for viewing, and the project should be completed in about a year's time.

"The project represents a special effort by the Registry to have an accurate representation of these handwritten deed documents. Additionally, its mission is to help the public perform historical, genealogical and land record research. A dedicated team of transcribers have been working to decipher these handwritten documents and transcribe them so they are available for viewing via our website," said Register O'Donnell.

It should be noted that while the transcribers have made a best effort attempt to translate these hard to read documents, their accuracy is not guaranteed. "These transcribed documents," noted Register O'Donnell, "are not legal documents in and of itself, and are not considered binding on the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds or its employees. It is considered merely a convenient reference for Registry patrons. For documentation purposes, users should refer to the scanned image of the original document instead of the transcribed image."

Concluding his remarks, O'Donnell stated, "As Register of Deeds, I take very seriously my responsibility to be the custodian of land document information in Norfolk County. Part of that responsibility is to ensure the accuracy and accessibility of these land documents. Future generations will now be able to read these transcribed images with the goal of ensuring a historically correct record of land documents in Norfolk County."

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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at

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.