Land Records Service

Unlike most surveyed states, Oklahoma did not have a Surveyor General appointed by the federal government. Therefore no central depository was established for its original land survey records.

Rather, the Commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington, D. C. directly administered original surveys and awarded contracts to deputy surveyors who performed actual surveying operations.

Map of Oklahoma from 1907

1907 map of Oklahoma, featured in our Digital Prairie Postcard Collection

By 1907, most surveying was completed and the original records transferred to Washington. Copies of many of the field notes and township plats were subsequently deposited with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and with the State Library. Thus, Oklahoma was left without a complete set of survey records in a central location.

After years of effort by public officials and land surveyors in the state, United States Senators Henry Bellmon and Dewey Bartlett succeeded in adding a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Interior’s 1977-1978 budget to provide Oklahoma with copies of all original survey records. Governor David L. Boren designated the State Archives as the official repository for these survey materials.

At a meeting between Bureau of Land Management officials, the Governor’s staff, Department of Libraries’ personnel and members of the Oklahoma Society of Land Surveyors, decisions were made for reproduction and transfer of the records, which was accomplished in August, 1978.