Back to Publications

Description of the Federal Land Record Systems

Ben G. Messer, Federal Land Status Determination (1971)

The primary purpose of this paper is to acquaint and inform persons who are principally interested in the status of mineral rights or related surface rights or orders on lands administered by the Federal Government of pertinent records available in the State Offices of the Bureau of Land Management and to describe these land status records. It has been the writer's experience that after having selected an area for mineral study, mining claim location, or acquisition of mineral rights, they do not know where or how to look for data that will guide them further. The Bureau of Land Management today has on file all past land records on the lands known as the public domain. The old records have been preserved, new ones are kept current, and all are available to the public for study in public record rooms during the hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on working days.

[¶25]Before describing any types of land records available today, lets take a brief look into the historical background for the need and development of the records. Federal lands or the public domain includes lands acquired by the United States through treaties, purchases, and cessions by the original states. The history of the public domain is a story of the expansion of the United States. This expansion required the identification of lands and a system of title recordkeeping.
[¶26]The Continental Congress set