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Eastern States Office of External Affairs
Release Date: 06/18/12
Contacts: Davida Carnahan , 703-440-1717 ,

Historic Minnesota Survey Field Notes Available Online

SPRINGFIELD, Va. – The Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States (BLM-ES) announces that electronic images of all Minnesota field notes created by surveyors for the federal government from 1847, are available on-line at   Minnesota is the first state in the BLM-ES region to have a full set of field notes available online. 

Lands in Minnesota have their basis of title in the Public Land Survey System, originally surveyed under Federal authority by the General Land Office (GLO), predecessor to the BLM, and later, by the cadastral surveyors of the BLM. The first field notes in Minnesota were created around 1847, predating opening Minnesota to land sale and to further settlement. The GLO transferred the original field notes to the State of Minnesota on February 4, 1908; the Minnesota Historical Society houses and maintains the set of original field notes. A second original set, known as the “duplicates” of the handwritten notes are housed at the BLM-ES in Springfield, Virginia. 

The Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo) performed the scanning and the indexing of the original field notes and plats from 1847 to 1911 through a grant provided by the Minnesota Historical Society. The project was supported by a Memorandum of Understanding signed in August 2010 by the BLM-ES, the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office, and the State of Minnesota, to scan and index original survey records in the State of Minnesota.   Using BLM software, the MnGeo scanned the original field notes and plats housed at the Minnesota Historical Society. BLM-ES staff completed the Minnesota field note set by collecting the field notes from 1911 to 2012 that are housed at BLM-ES. The original plats scanned by MnGeo will be available online, in the future. The “duplicate” plats housed at BLM-ES are online now. 

This year, the BLM commemorates the 200th anniversary of the opening of the GLO on April 25, 1812. Today the BLM-ES provides on-line access to more than four million historical documents, including land patents, survey plats and field notes, land status records and Control Document Index Images.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Last updated: 03-12-2013