Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding old plans

Periodically I write about various features available on our website. Today the topic is old plans. By old I mean those recorded prior to 1855 which is the date this registry was created by the state legislature. When the registry first opened (in 1855), both record books and plan books started anew with #1. But land in this region was the subject of documents that had been recorded in Cambridge since the early 1600s. All of those documents were recopied in separate books that were divided by town - that being the town in which the land was located in 1855 - and then by a new book and page number.

Plans recorded prior to 1855 were treated differently. Copies were obtained from Cambridge and placed in five different plan books. For some reason, these plan books begin with 00, skip 01, and then go to 02, 03, 04 and 05. Over the years we have made these images available online, but the recent activation of the "new" website caused the electronic location of these plan images to change.

Currently, our website gives the following instructions: Plans recorded before 1855 were located in plan books numbered 00, 02, 03, 04 and 05. We have renumbered those books 900, 902, 903, 904 and 905 for use on this application. It turns out that these instructions are no longer correct since the images have moved.

Here's how you view images of these pre-1855 plans now: Starting at, click on the yellow search box. This opens a new window at Click the link that says "try out the new Masslandrecords". When that opens, slide your cursor over the "search criteria" link at the top of the page. From the "plans" section, pick "unindexed property search." That will cause the search windows to change to "book" and "page." Just enter the book you want (900, 902, 903, 904 or 905) in that field and click "search". That will yield a link to all of the plans in each of those books. The number of plans vary from 10 to 20, so there aren't as many as are in our current record books. Once you have the link to the plan you want, click on it and then click the "view image" tab in the right hand window to view the plan.

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