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Description of Documents

Historical Index (HI)
An HI is a chronological listing of title or status actions affecting a township. Because of the chronological format, information for a particular section or parcel is not easy to abstract.

A separate set of HIs was created for acquired lands and related actions. These are referred to as Acquired HIs (ACQ HIs).

Tract Books
Tract books were maintained by the General Land Offices and were used as the official record to record land entries. Our office maintains the original tract books for the old records area, and microfilm copies of the tract books for the new records area. These books are maintained in a township/range format.

Abbreviations were used to annotate tract book entries. A guide to tract book abbreviations is available upon request. Cost recovery fees will apply.

Serial Register Pages (SRP)
Land entries made or patented after July 1908 were assigned a serial number by the land office. Our office maintains copies of SRPs, by local General Land Office, in microfiche format for all three states. An SRP is a chronological listing of case related actions, and includes the name of the applicant, land description, type of land entry, and status of application (e.g., patented, rejected, relinquished, cancelled).

Controlled Document Index (CDI)
Patents and other conveyance documents, are maintained in date order by title, township and range. These records are referred to as the Controlled Document Index (CDI). Most notations on the Master Title Plats and Historical Indexes are supported by a CDI document. Copies of CDI documents can be obtained from our office.

Mining Claim Microfiche
Mining claim microfiche is no longer maintained, however, an up-to-date computer report can be generated. Reports are available for claimant, legal description, and claim name and/or serial number. Requests for reports need to be very specific, (e.g., Do you want information on all claims? active claims only? Do you want quarter section information? Do you want information for the entire section? entire township? or entire range?)

The State Office maintains a legal reference library. Copies of laws, acts, regulations, statutes, manuals, etc., can be obtained from this source.

Master Title Plats
The website to access electronic images of master title plats and use plats for Montana and the Dakotas is now http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/.  Once there, click on "Search LSRs" (land status records) to search for plats.

MTPs and related records were developed in the 1950s under the Records Improvement Process (RIP). Information was extracted from the General Land Office tract books and plats, and used to create MTPs and Historical Indexes (HIs). Areas where MTPs exist are referred to as the new records area, and tract book records exist on microfilm. If an MTP wasn't created (because of no federal land or mineral interest), the area is referred to as the old records area, and our office still maintains the original tract books. Researchers need to refer to tract books and GLO plats for status information in the old records areas. (All of Montana is in the new records area, but the eastern parts of North and South Dakota are the old records area.)

A MTP is a graphic illustration of land and mineral status within a township. The base of the MTP is based on the most recent survey information. MTPs are continually updated as status or survey information changes. 

If there is a lot of detail within a small area, a supplemental plat is created (enlarging the detail for easier drafting and reading).

A Use Plat is created for certain uses, such as oil and gas leasing (OG Plat), coal leasing, and other minerals. If a use plat has been created, it will be noted on the lower right hand corner of the MTP.

The term Master Title Plats as used here includes not only the Master Title Plats (MTPs) and Township plats, but Oil and Gas plats and supplemental Oil and Gas plats.  Additional plats will be posted as they become available in digital format.

The application to access the electronic images of the master title plats and use plats for Montana and the Dakotas are now available on the Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States (BLM-ES) General Land Office (GLO) Records Web Site.  The website is http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/.

The Explanatory Township shows most of the types of lines used along with the information conveyed by each, and an explanation of various notations that can be found on the plat. The Legend is a listing of abbreviations and symbols, as well as a brief description of features that can appear on the Master Title Plat or Use Plat.  Click on the state's name to see a Montana (1.3 mbNorth Dakota (921 kbSouth Dakota (2.2 mb) township & range map for reference.), or ),

For additional information about MTPs or HIs, contact the Montana/Dakotas Public Room.

No warranty is made for data usage purposes not intended by the Bureau of Land Management.


Last updated: 06-28-2012