Register O’Donnell Makes History Come Alive

Registry of Deeds William P. O’Donnell today reminded history buffs that all hand written land documents at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds have been electronically transcribed and are available for viewing and printing.


“The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been in existence for 225 years. During that time, the Registry has gone from the days of scriveners with quill pens to the modern era of computers and advanced document imaging. We are proud of the effort undertaken to transcribe images of handwritten land documents dating back from 1793 to 1900,” noted O’Donnell. “With the transcription process complete, we now have all our land documents, approximately 8,000,000, available at our website”


O’Donnell further stated, “We are extraordinarily proud that the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds was the first in New England back in 2017 to go through this transcription process. The effort undertaken to transcribe these hard to read land documents represented a special effort by the Registry and its vendor to have an accurate representation of these handwritten land documents. This undertaking has allowed the public to perform historical, genealogical and land record research.” The Register added that 12.5 million words of Old English prose written in cursive penmanship were transcribed into readable computer text.


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,” stated 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 users. For documentation purposes, users should refer to the scanned image of the original document instead of the transcribed image.”   


“It is a wonderful time to take advantage of this technological breakthrough. Genealogy InTime Magazine estimated that 7.93 million Americans are involved in tracking their ancestors,” noted O’Donnell.  The Register also stated that two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough was fascinated and delighted to learn about the project, writing “….you {Registry} are making a large and important contribution and I send my warmest congratulations.”


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.”


To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at facebook/com/NorfolkDeeds or follow us on and


The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham.  The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information.  All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website  Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at [email protected].



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.