Mark F. Anderson, MA

From Prairie to Farm: How the U.S. General Land Office survey shaped Iowa

Two hundred years ago, Iowa was completely covered by prairies, forests, and a variety of wetlands. Now, prairie, forest, and wetlands cover less than 8 percent of the state. The remainder of the state is covered by farms, roads, towns, and cities. How did that happen? Who influenced the patterns that we see today?

From 1832 to 1859, surveyors from the U.S. General Land Office (GLO) surveyed Iowa to prepare for settlers moving from eastern states. They used surveying technology and methods used by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others. They encountered a variety of obstacles, both natural and cultural, making their survey work quite challenging.

Learn how GLO surveyors met these challenges and prepared the way for Euro-American settlers and what the surveyors wrote about their work and the landscape of Iowa. Also learn how ecologists today use GLO maps and notes to help manage Iowa natural areas.

[View this presentation on SlideShare, https://www.slideshare.net/MarkAnderson44/diy-natural-history-public-engagement-through-digital-collections.] [Presented in November 2015.]

Mark F. Anderson, MA, is the Digital Scholarship & Collections Librarian at the University of Iowa.

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