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General Land Office Survey Plats and Field Notes

The General Land Office (GLO) survey plats were compiled in the 1830's and later as Wisconsin was formally divided into one-square mile sections using the Township and Range survey system. These maps were often the first created for any given area of the state. They take the form of watercolor and ink paintings on heavy paper, and are bound together in large plat books. The maps depict vegetation, natural features, early trails and roads, Native American villages, campsites and fields, and Euro-American cabins, farmsteads and sawmills. The GLO Survey plats have not yet been integrated into the Wisconsin ASI.

Location: Archives, Fourth Floor
Call Number: Series 698. A finding aid is available in the reading room.
Online Resources:

Field Notes
Two sets of notes were kept by each surveyor. The first set describes vegetation, terrain and features encountered as the surveyor walked the “exterior” or Section lines within individual Townships. The second set describes features noted during “interior” surveys, when half and quarter-section lines were laid out. These notes provide valuable descriptions of vegetation and terrain prior to widespread Euro-American settlement. Surveyors would sometimes note mound groups, trails and other highly visible site types as they encountered them.

Location: Archives, Fourth Floor
Call Number: Series 701. A finding aid is available in the reading room.


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