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Survey Records

 Puffy clouds over mountain range with trees in the foreground (Photo by Matt Campos/BLM)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for the protection, distribution, and sales of survey records made by the General Land Office (GLO) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) throughout California.  Although most research traditionally involves surveyors interested in the retracement or resurvey of the rectangular survey system, the available information has also been of interest to historians, genealogists, title companies, and others.  The Survey Records unit of Geographic Services protects these records and makes copies of the records available to the public.

 Available Information

Check out the online maps of Principal Meridians and Baselines.  This link opens a new window at the national website.

GLO/BLM Field Notes and Plats, 1850-present.  Field notes contain a complete description of each mile surveyed or resurveyed, each corner monument set, and each bearing tree scribed by GLO and BLM surveyors in California.  Plats (survey maps) show a graphic representation of the information contained in the field notes.

California Ranchos.  Records of the various Spanish and Mexican land grants (ranchos) whose boundaries predate the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) in this state.  The rancho boundary surveys are metes-and-bounds surveys tied into the township and range surveys of the PLSS.  These records include the GLO and BLM resurvey field notes and plats, as well as certain private land claim dockets, disenos, and indices to land grant cases.

Mineral Surveys, 1850-present.  Records (field notes and plats) of the mineral surveys approved by the General Land Office and the Bureau of Land Management.  These records are only available from California Survey Records.

Contract Examiners Books, 1885-1917.  In 1885, Commissioner Sparks made it mandatory for each survey to be examined prior to approval.  These books contain information regarding names of the examiners, dates of examination, the character of the surveys, and actions by the GLO.

Tract books.  These books note all transactions affecting public lands from the 1880's to 1970's.  Copies are kept on microfiche in California and Washington D.C.  

Letters from the Commissioner of the GLO to the Surveyor General-1851-1898.  These letters are kept on microfiche (from NARA records) and are sorted by the date sent.

Letters from the Surveyor General of California to the Commissioner of the GLO, 1851-1879. These letters are kept on microfiche (from NARA records) and are sorted by the date sent.

Location and Hours of Operation

Our office is located at 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-1601, Sacramento, California.

Our public counter is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Ordering Records

You can obtain both digital and paper copies of these records in the following ways:

  • Download duplicate plat copies at the BLM GLO Records Homepage.  (The number of California survey field notes available at this site is very limited.  Mineral survey plats are not available at this site.)
  • Visit our public counter during business hours.
  • Call BLM California Survey Records at (916) 978-4330.
  • Fax your request to (916) 978-4327.
  • E-mail your request.  Direct your query to "CA Survey Records".
  • Mail your request to:

United States Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office, Survey Records
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-1623
Sacramento, CA 95825

Copy Fees

Non-certified copies of records downloaded from the BLM GLO Records Homepage are free.  Certified copies may be purchased online.  See that webpage for details.

Records purchased directly from the California Survey Records unit are charged as follows:

Document TypesFormatPrice
Survey Field Notes

Paper copy (8 1/2 x 11 in.) 
Digital copies on a CD (field notes with accompanying 
survey plats)
Typed copies (Patents only)

$1.10 per page
$1.00 each CD

$4.00 per page
Historical Indices
Protraction Diagrams 
Plats (All types)

Paper copy (18 x 24 in.)
Digital copy on CD 

$1.10 per sheet
$1.00 each CD

There is an additional shipping and handling fee of $4.00 per order for items which require delivery to the recipient.  Shipments are via Federal Express® Next Day Service.

Additional fees for research time, copy certification, color copies, special orders, and other types of records than those listed may apply.  Please call (916) 978-4330 for current costs.


Public Room.  Located at the same address as the survey records unit is the BLM's California Public Room. Records available from this public room include quad maps, status maps, mining claims, and patents.  Questions can be directed to the Public Room by E-mail.  This room is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, or call (916) 978-4400.

National Archives.  This is a link to the National Archives and Records Administration Homepage.  There are many good research sources at this site.  Don't pass this one up.