When the General Land Office was established within the Treasury Department in 1812, all survey and land records became the responsibility of that office. Functions of the General Land Office included issuance of land warrants and grants, schedule of sales at various district land offices, collection of monies for land sales, preparation and issuance of patents or deeds, and the maintenance of land records--including copies of plats of survey, tract books, original entries, copies of patents, case records, and related data. This data was maintained pursuant to Section 8 of the Act of May 18, 1796 (1 Stat. 464, 469). The Act introduced the concept of maintaining a status plat, keeping record for tracts sold under the Act. Section 7 of the Act of May 10, 1800 (2 Stat. 73, 75-76) directed the Registrars of the land office to enter purchase applications "...on books kept for the purpose only...," i.e., the tract books.
The Act of March 3, 1849, created the Department of the Interior. In 1946, the General Land Office was merged with U.S. Grazing Service to form the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior. In the process, BLM became the custodian of the official land records of the United States.
In 1955, the Bureau of Land Management initiated the Records Improvement Program (RIP). The tract books were replaced (for the most part) with the Master Title Plats, Use Plats and Historical Indices. The land record system was designed in such a way that once the user became familiar with the basic rules, terminology, symbols and notations, he could determine the status of any area of land.
This record system contains updateable records in a reproducible format. These records contain the same information that was shown on the old records. The records include the Master Title Plat, Use Plats, Historical Index, Serial Register Page, Control Document Index and an Index to Mining Location and Contest Sheets.
Not all documents are currrently available electronically. Contact us at (602) 417-9528 to request a paper copy.