Survey Records

A man reviews a survey document.

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 traditionally, most research involves surveyors interested in the retracement or resurvey of the rectangular survey system, the available information has been researched by historians, genealogists, title companies, and others.

Available Information

Check out the online maps of Principal Meridians and Baselines.  This opens a new window on the national site.

GLO/BLM Field Notes and Plats, 1850-present.   Field notes contain a complete description of each mile surveyed, every monument set, and every bearing tree scribed. Plats(maps) show graphic representation of information contained in the field notes.  Rancho Records.   Records of the various Spanish and Mexican land grants. These include the GLO field notes and plats, as well as certain private land claim dockets, disenos, and indexes to land grant cases.

Mineral Surveys 1850-present.   Records(field notes and maps) of the mineral surveys approved by the General Land Office or the Bureau of Land Management.

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

Tract books.   These books note all transactions affecting public lands from the 1880's to 1970's. Copies were kept in California and Washington. Both are available.  

Letters from Commissioner to Surveyor General-1851-1898. Washington's side of the conversation. 

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

Hours of Operation
Our office is located at 2800 Cottage Way, W-1601, Sacramento California. Our sales counter is open from 8:30 to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.

Ordering information
You can obtain information on these records the following ways:

  • Visit our public counter. The counter is open 8:30 to 4:30, Monday through Friday.
  • Phone 916-978-4330 - 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday.
  • Fax 916-978-4327.
  • Answering machine available 24 hrs. a day.
  • Or E-mail Survey Records Information at
  • Or... you can even use regular Mail

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

Copy Fees

Price List is being updated.  Please call 916-978-4330 for costs.  Thank you.

Public Room. Within the same building 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 sent via E-mail Public Room Information This room is open from 8:30 to 4:30 Mon. through Fri. or you can phone 916-978-4400

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