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Land Economic Inventory Maps (Bordner Survey)

Land map of Vilas County, 1931.

Part of Vilas County, 1931
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What can I find here?

The Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory is a Depression-era project that mapped Wisconsin's land resources between 1929 and 1949. The goal of the project was to promote using land resources more effectively. This is also known as the "Bordner Survey", named after its director, John Bordner. Each map covers one survey township.

Field workers, usually trained foresters, crossed the land at intervals of one-half mile. They mapped current land use and land cover, signs of erosion, and size and quality of stands of timber. Included on the maps are such features as houses, schools, churches, taverns, cheese factories, filling stations, and logging camps.

These maps present the Wisconsin landscape during the 1930s and 1940s. When used in conjunction with the U.S. General Land Office Surveyors' Field Notes and Plats, conducted between 1833 and 1866, you can compare the Wisconsin landscape before it was settled and approximately 100 years later.

How is it organized?

  • Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory maps are organized by county, then township, range, and section.
  • Each map covers one survey township.
  • Milwaukee County was not mapped.
  • Lincoln, Manitowoc, and Sheboygan County maps were not published.
  • Land in Menominee County, established in 1961, is included as part of Langlade, Oconto, and Shawano Counties.
  • The collection is located in the Archives. It includes three sets of maps: field notes, small-scale printed maps, and large-scale printed maps.


The entire Land Economic Inventory maps collection (Bordner Survey) is available for viewing online via the UW-Madison Digital Collections.

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