Register O’Donnell Discusses Online Research Capability for Genealogy and History Enthusiasts

Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell today reminded genealogy enthusiasts and those with an interest in the rich history of Norfolk County that all Registry hand-written land documents have been transcribed and are available for viewing via the Registry website –

Register O’Donnell noted, “Interest in online genealogical research has increased dramatically, particularly since the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic back 2020. According to USA Today, genealogy is the second most popular hobby in the U.S. after gardening, and the second most visited category of website. If you are have always been curious about your family history or local history, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds can be a valuable source of relevant information via its online research offerings.”

A few years back, the Registry and its vendor completed a project which transcribed all our hand-written land documents dating back to 1793. This “History Comes Alive Initiative” transcribed over 450,000 hand-written documents that were recorded at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds between 1793 and 1900. Prior to this effort, these cursive documents were in many cases difficult to near impossible to read. With the transcription project completed, over 8 million land document images can be accessed for viewing from the comfort of your home via the Registry website,

Learning about this project, David McCullough, the famous American historian and author who just recently passed away stated, “I was fascinated and delighted to learn about the way the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds and Xerox Corporation are transcribing the historical deeds into easy to read computer text, and I say this as one who has spent a great deal of my working life struggling to read original letters and diaries and other old documents … you are making an important contribution and I send my warmest congratulations.”

It should be noted that while the transcribers made a best effort to translate these hard to read documents, their accuracy is not guaranteed. “These transcribed documents,” noted 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 users. For documentation purposes, users should refer to the scanned image of the original document instead of the transcribed image.”

Concluding his remarks, Register O’Donnell stated, “Our online research offerings remain a viable way for genealogists and history buffs to perform research from the comfort of their homes. Please know that as your Register of Deeds, I continue to take very seriously my core responsibility to be the custodian of land document information in Norfolk County. Myself and the Registry staff strive each and every day to ensure the accuracy and accessibility of these land documents. I am proud that future generations will be able to access these land documents and read the transcribed images with the ongoing goal of ensuring a correct record of land documents here in Norfolk County.”

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.