How do I find deeds?

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has microfilmed copies of older deeds for every county in Tennessee. The deeds records are arranged by the name of the seller/buyer  (grantor/grantee).  We do not have a means to search for a deed record by knowing the area, address, or longitude & latitude of the property. Information for ordering deed records can be found in Ordering Records. To see inventories of what deed year coverage we have for each county, see our county inventories of microfilmed records.

When a deed search is requested, we follow these procedures:

  • We locate the cumulative index (if available), usually in a book separate from the deed books. If there is no cumulative index, we use the index appearing in each volume of deeds.
  • We check to see if the index indicates the date of the deed. If it does, we search the portion of the index covering the dates requested for the name requested.
  • If the dates are not shown in the index entries, we determine which deeds books were in use during the dates requested in the search. For example: if the request is for a deed dated 1860-1865, and we find that Deed Book C covered 1856-1861 and Deed Book D covered 1861-1866, we would search that portion of the index that includes entries for Deed Books C and D.
  • Within the time period requested, we look for deeds matching the name of the person requested. Both grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer) indexes are searched. Deed indexes are not always completely alphabetized, but only grouped under each letter of the alphabet. For example: to locate deeds for Jasper Bates, we scan the entire letter & #8220;B” in the index.
  • If an entry matching the request is found, we copy the deed and mail it to the client.
  • If more than one matching entry is found, we copy the index pages containing them and mail them to the client, with instructions to select one to be copied at the standard fee.
  • If no related entry is found, we advise the client that the index was searched, indicating the dates covered by the search.

 Deeds are not always recorded in the year they are written, so a deed written in 1865 but not recorded until 1875 will not be located using this search strategy. We have no way of ascertaining whether a deed was recorded when it was written. Name of grantor is not always the expected name; some properties are sold by power of attorney, sheriff or court clerk to satisfy a legal judgment, so the deed would be indexed under the name of that person.  


Please note: Archival materials are available for retrieval between the hours of 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. If you know you will need materials between 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, please call ahead to the Public Services section at 615-741-2764 or visit the Ask Us a Question! web page. We will do our best to accommodate your request.