Land grants are simply the transfer of government lands to a private individual or organization. Although the word “grant” implies they were free or that the person receiving it needed to do something special to deserve it, in reality most were simply purchased. These records are important in genealogical research in determining an individual’s time and place, neighbors, wealth, and more. They are useful for historical research in projects such as determining settlement and migration patterns.
The State Archives of North Carolina (SANC) in Raleigh, NC has an extensive collection of records related to North Carolina land grants from 1663 to 1960. These can include the initial request or “entry” for the land, the warrant to obtain the survey, the survey with a small map of the property, the written description of the land as recorded in the state patent books, and receipts for payments. For preservation reasons, the original documents were microfilmed and researchers only had access to those images at the SANC Search Room. Searches for grants were done using a card catalog or the SANC MARS (now DOC) database. This was a time consuming process, especially if you did not live close to SANC.
The free website NC Land Grant Images and Data was created by David McCorkle in 2014 starting with all the land grant data in MARS generously provided SANC. This was combined with digitized images from over 150 reels digitized by and purchased from SANC, primary by David but also from other contributors. David wrote the website software to merge the data and images and provide extensive search capabilities. A given grant can have data and images stored in up to 5 separate collections, and this website merges them all into a single web page. It has since been used by thousands of genealogists and historians, amateur and professional, with several hundred queries per day.
Almost 100,000 images on the website cannot be viewed anywhere else except in person at the State Archives of North Carolina. These include as images of all pages of all land grant Patent Books, images of all Lord Granville Grant deeds and associated documents, and images of county land entry records sent to the state from 1778-1795. In late 2021 a set of 1,400 land grant records that were not in any online database were added to the website .
As of February 2022, the website has 217,000 land grant records along with 730,000 (and growing) associated images.