IGIC Historical Land Survey Records Pilot Project

Contributed by:  Lorraine Wright
IGIC Grant Contractor

The Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC) under Grant Agreement EDS A187-5-2377 with the State Historic Restoration Advisory Board has completed a pilot project to have the Indiana State Archives Land Survey Records digitally preserved and archived for online and IndianaMap access.


This grant provided funding to get approximately 20% of these historic documents either scanned, digitized, and/or photographed and to name the files with an indexed file naming convention. The future goal is to hyperlink the scanned images to their associated Township Range layer on a digital map (IndianaMap.org).


The grant proposal was approved on July 29, 2014. Work under the grant was completed on September 30, 2015.  A final revised report for the project is being released today – IGIC 2014 SHRAB Grant Report 20151203 Final

Importance of this Pilot Project
The State Archives’ Land Survey Records [Public Land Survey System (PLSS) and the non-PLSS records] are extremely valuable because the records are the basis for Indiana’s land records system. Every land transaction today relates back to the original Land Survey Records. Surveyors and others interested in our States history (forestry, hydrology, genealogy, etc.) need to access the Land Survey Records for various types of information.

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This requires a great deal of time and effort traveling to the State Archives, making copies, and it creates wear and tear on the land records (paper, microfilm, etc.). The original documents are fragile and need to be preserved and the microfilm available to the public is scratched and sometimes hard to read.

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The goal of this grant was to establish the methodology, technology and resources to preserve a sub-set of these important documents, and to make the Land Survey Records available in a format that is easy to use and is easily accessible to the public.

Institutional goal in carrying out the project
The results of this project will be utilized by federal, state, and local governments, the public, professional surveyors, hydrologists, historians, foresters, genealogists as well as other groups. Many of the Indiana geographic boundaries were based on the original Land Survey Records and it is important to have this information available to the public along with the other boundary information.  The State Archives records will be accessible through the State Archives website as part of this grant and they will be added as a GIS layer to IndianaMap.org when funds become available during the next phase of the project.

IndianaMap Availability
IGIC and the GIO will coordinate to have the information added to Indiana’s GIS Framework on IndianaMap once the scanned and renamed images are available and the mapping effort is funded. The scanned images will be hyperlinked to the Township Range layer on the IndianaMap website. One will be able to click on a point (example Township 23 North, Range 3 West) and the scanned image(s) of the land record will be displayed.

Pilot Demonstration
A pilot demonstration of this capability was developed by the IndianaMap staff at the Indiana Geological Survey to show how the final product could be viewed on IndianaMap:


1. After clicking on the link above, Select Township/Range in the Search dropdown box on IndianaMap


2. For Marion County Demo: Type in 16N4E or 15N3E in the Township/Range Box and hit Enter.

3. For Tippecanoe County Demo: Type in 21N4W in the Township/Range Box and hit Enter.

The IndianaMap will zoom to and highlight the Township you entered.  Double-click on the highlighted Township to display the Attributes for the feature (see below).


For this demo, a select few scanned images were linked to the Township Range GIS Layer on IndianaMap. There may be more than one document associated with each Township Range (Tippecanoe example).  Click on the Hyperlink in the attribute window to open the scanned document of interest.

What’s Next?
The next phase will be to find funds to expand this record preservation and access pilot to include all of the remaining historic Land Survey Records for Indiana.

For more information see the final report available above.



  1. Clayton Hogston says:

    Congratulations Lorraine on a difficult job well done. This is an important advancement for the surveying community and we appreciate your effort.

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