by Local History Librarian David
For much of the twentieth century, an updated Abstract of Title was required when transferring real estate. Such a document was a compilation of all the transactions made for a specific piece of real estate, thus tracing the owners back to the early 1800s. The purpose was to ensure against any encumbrances on the property, guaranteeing a clean title.
By the mid 1970s, Abstracts of Titles were becoming less common. Replaced by title insurance, many lenders dropped them as a requirement. Homeowners no longer had to update the abstract when selling their property, and many were discarded. Those that survive are valuable documents providing a glimpse into the past.