Exploring Title Abstracts

Title abstracts can be great sources of information for people looking for the history of a property or subdivision. Title abstracts follow the chain of ownership, usually from the original sale by the government or other agency, through to the date of the most recent abstract. The abstract is a packet that includes legal documents pertaining to the property, notably the deed records and mortgages, and list where those documents are recorded. Each abstract is different but may include documents such as mortgage releases, tax sales, easements, surveys, land plats, annexations, and subdivision plats. They can also contain restrictions, lawsuits, liens, wills, special taxes, or utility assessments. If your property is located where coal, oil, natural gas, or another mineral deposit has been found, the abstract may also contain information about mineral rights.

Title Abstract Survey

The title abstracts in the Archives were donated by various sources: attorneys, banks, mortgage companies, individuals, and even a title company that went out of business. Some files only cover a limited number of years rather than a complete abstract. This is called a title search. Title searches include the same information as title abstracts, just for a smaller and more recent window of time. There are over 5,600 files that have been entered into our catalog, Local History Online, and more are waiting to be processed.

Title Abstract Boxes

To see if the Archives has an abstract file for your property, check the catalog. For street addresses in Champaign or Urbana, follow this format to search:

Street Name (Town Name), Cardinal Direction, House Number

Example: Michigan Ave (Urbana), West, 601

One of the items that appears in the search result for that address is Title Abstract File 3242: 601 West Michigan.

Title Abstract Original Sale

To find abstracts outside of Champaign and Urbana, it is best to use the advanced search in Local History Online. In the “limit by” field, scroll down to Title Abstracts. Then, in the search area, type in the name of the town or township. Another option is to type in the township number (Example: T18N) or limit your search by adding the range (Example: T18N, R14W). Township numbers and ranges can be found in our plat map atlases.

Title Abstract Subdivision Plats

Only some of the abstracts the Archives hold have been digitized. Title Abstract File 5660: 507 West Indiana Avenue is one of these. For those interested in the Albert G. Carle family or the donation of ground for Carle Park, or want see types of items an abstract may include, view the abstract here.

-Karla Gerdes
Archives Assistant