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Managing a Land Office Business

Commemorating 200 Years of the General Land Office

Two hundred years ago this April, the General Land Office (GLO) opened its doors for business. Today that “land office business” continues at the Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States office, which will commemorate the occasion with events scheduled throughout the year.

In 1812, a young American nation faced the challenge of transforming wilderness to agricultural use and acquiring the revenue to pay its war debts. The GLO was established to handle the business associated with the sale of public lands for private ownership, transforming wilderness to agricultural use, and generating income for the Federal government. The GLO, in fact, became the “Gateway to Land Ownership” for millions of Americans. As the successor agency to the original GLO, the BLM, a bureau of the Department of the Interior, was established in 1946 with the merger of the Grazing Service and the GLO. 

The General Land Office Past & Present

Above: GLO Surveyors in Oregon in  1923. Click here or on the photo to view a timeline of more than 200 years of land records history.

Video Tour of Today's GLO

Click here or on the graphic above to view a brief tour of the GLO at BLM's Eastern States Office, including the fireproof vault, document scanning, and bindery.

Surveyors Led the Way

All of the documents in the General Land Office have their beginnings in a cadastral survey, establishing the proper boundaries of federal lands.  Surveying has a rich tradition in the U.S.--  many of the founding fathers and signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were practicing surveyors. Click on this link or the photo below to view a brief video on the role of BLM surveyors and how they retrace original land boundaries.

BLM Surveyor

A Record-Keeping History

Sure, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were both involved.  But it was Albert Gallatin (below), the Secretary of the Treasury in 1812, who championed the surveying and recording of public land information.  Two centuries later, we're still at it.  Read more>>>

GLO-ing With the BLM

Kyle Sullivan, an intern with the BLM Colorado State Office, created an innovative presentation on the General Land Office.  The presentation includes photos, videos, a timeline, and additional facts about BLM and its mission. To view the show, click here or on the image below.

Commemorative Events

April 25, 2012--200th Anniversary Commemorative Event of the General Land Office, Bureau of Land Management Eastern States Office, Springfield VA. See photos of the event.

June 7 - September 3--Home! Sweet Homestead! The 150th Anniversary of Homestead Act National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City, OR More information.

July 4-Homesteading booth at the Anchorage, Alaska, 4th of July celebration. More information.

September 10--Commemoration of the GLO and the Homestead Act, Boulder, Colorado. Sponsored by the Public Lands Foundation, the Bureau of Land Management, the Center of the American West, and the University of Colorado. More information

For a listing of BLM State GLO Activities, select this link.

The Homestead Act

Visit BLM's companion website that describes the Homestead Act and its impact on BLM lands and people.  The site includes a timeline (below), historical information, and video interviews with descendants of homesteaders. Click here for more.