About Alaska, U.S., Deed and Tract Books, 1906-1975
About the Alaska, U.S., Deed and Tract Books, 1906-1975
General collection information
This collection consists of two separate groups of documents. One group includes trustee deeds that are executed by a person serving as an appointed trustee of a community or escrow company. The deeds in this collection were issued by trustees from towns and Native Alaskan communities between 1906 and 1975. These records also include quitclaim deeds, which transfer property, and deed applications. The deeds usually include land survey numbers, legal descriptions of the properties, names of trustees, names of landowners, and the date of the transfer of ownership.
The second group of records in this collection includes tract books dated between 1906 and 1962. Tract books are records of land sales that include information about related deeds. Information found in the tract books includes the names of deed-holders, the dollar amount of the assessment, the dollar amount paid for the deed, the type of deed issued, and the date of the deed. Tract books are available for the following Alaskan communities: Aniak, Bethel, Cordova, Douglas, Eagle, Haines, Hoonah, Hyder, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kotzebue, Loring, McGrath, Nome, Ninilchik, Skagway, Valdez, Wrangell, and Yakutat.
Using this collection
Records in this collection may include the following information:
The deeds and tract books in this collection can be used to verify when and where your ancestor was involved in a land sale in Alaska.
Collection in context
The deeds and tract books were created by officials working in townsite trustee offices affiliated with the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The collection includes images of the original documents, which are primary historical sources. The original documents are housed at the National Archives in Seattle, Washington.
The United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. About 35,000 Native Alaskans lived there at the time. From the late 1890s to about 1910, the Klondike and Nome gold rushes increased Alaska's non-Indigenous population, which raised concerns about land rights.
The Alaska Native Allotment Act of 1906 provided the first federal government authorization for individual Native Alaskans to purchase up to 160 acres of land if they could prove substantially continuous use and occupancy of that land for a period of five years. One purpose of the act was to encourage Native Alaskans to assimilate into western culture by becoming individual landowners.
The act disrupted the tradition of tribal ownership of land and didn’t account for the migratory culture of Indigenous Alaskan tribes. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 repealed the 1906 allotment act but made provisions to complete about 15,000 pending allotment claims. The majority of these pending claims were finalized by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1981.
Hensley, William L. "What Rights to Land Have the Alaska Natives?: The Primary Question." Alaskool.org. Accessed June 9, 2022. http://www.alaskool.org/projects/ancsa/WLH/WLH66-All.htm.
National Archives and Records Administration. "Alaska Townsite Deed Books, 1906-1975." Accessed June 9, 2022. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5404594.
---. "Townsite Tract Books, 1906-1962." Accessed June 9, 2022. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5509900.
United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. "Alaska Native Allotment Act Entitlements." Accessed June 9, 2022. https://www.blm.gov/programs/lands-and-realty/regional-information/alaska/land_transfer/ak-native-allotment-act.
USLegal.com. "Trustee's Deed Law and Legal Definition." Accessed June 9, 2022. https://definitions.uslegal.com/t/trustees-deed/.