The first Land Office in Idaho was created 27 June 1866 at Boise City and officially opened on 13 June 1868. Five other land offices followed at Blackfoot, Coeur d'Alene, Hailey, Lewiston and Oxford through 1886 . All of these, including the original Boise Land Office gradually closed, with final consolidation into the Idaho Land Office at Boise in 1948.

The former Idaho Land Office is now part of the Idaho State Office of the Bureau of Land Management in Boise (BLM). The Public Room houses the Idaho Federal Land Records.

Principal Land Laws of interest to genealogists in Idaho may be grouped as follows:

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 repealed most public land laws that allowed acquisition of Public Domain by private citizens, except that laws relevant to Alaska were extended to 1986.


Public land records fall into these principal categories:


Field Notes--permanent, detailed records made by the surveyor as he establishes land boundaries.
Survey Plat--drawings made from field notes showing land boundaries, subdivisions, areas, and other features.
Plats of Survey and Field notes may contain genealogical information. Where land was occupied when surveyed, a dwelling and the occupant's name may be illustrated on the plat if it were close to the survey line. Cultivated areas, fences and other improvements will appear if on the survey line.


Tract Books--index books organized by township, range, section, and subdivision with names, dates and Acts for all applications, leases, licenses, or permits whether approved, disallowed, rejected, or withdrawn.
Tract Books may be the only place a name can be found if an application for land did not become an entry before 1 July 1908 (see Serial Registers below). Names of applicants and entrymen will appear here, and also notations for other actions such as leases, permits, and rights-of-way. A researcher must know the legal description, or at least the close proximity to find information in the Tract Books.
Status Plats--copies of survey plats with notations about land actions, and showing boundaries of patented lands. Master Title Plats and Historical Indexes now replace Tract Books and Status Plats.
Status Plats display patent or certificate numbers within the land area involved. In addition, applications may be found on the plat, merely crossed out.


Patents--deeds from the Federal Government. Also, within this category are other conveyances of title, such as grants, Indian allotments, and private land claims.
Land patents provide the patentee's name, date of patent, law under which land was patented, and a legal description.
Serial Registers--chronological Serial Numbers by Land Office for each application beginning 1 July 1908 and containing the name and address of the applicant, legal description, and sequential notations for each action from application through patent or other closing.
For applications that did not go to entry, these registers may reveal the only chronological data now available for an individual who filed on land after 1 July 1908.


A case record exists for each land entry, including those that failed, with a history of all processing actions.
Each case record contains at least the claimant's name, date filed, date title passed, address, and a legal description. The amount of vital information tends to increase for claims based on occupancy, such as Homesteads and Desert Land Entries.


Here are some ways that Public Domain Land Records may be useful:



You may visit the BLM Public Room  or make an Online Search as as described later. The Public Room has film copies of Status Plats, Tract Books, Patents, Serial Registers, and Survey Records for Idaho. They also have alphabetical index cards cross-referenced to Patent and Certificate Numbers and Serial Numbers for applications beginning 1 July 1908.

A  computer name search of Idaho BLM Automated Land & Mineral Records may be done by Idaho BLM Personnel for land patents. Also, they can examine the alphabetical cross-indexes for names.

TIP: Now you make make an Online Search of Idaho Patent Records yourself.

The Idaho State Office can furnish copies of all the records described above, either by mail or personal visit. BLM personnel also will respond to telephone inquiries. Appropriate charges are made for copies using standardized rates.  BLM also may impose a charge for research time if it exceeds one-fourth hour at a standard rate. Check at the Public Room for current charges.

When requesting copies of documents found during an Online Search, include at least the Patent Number, Patentee's Name, and Legal Description.

TIP: If a name is found during the Online Search, go to Details;  click on "Click for printer friendly version" and print the page. Include a copy of the page when you request a  document copy.


The Eastern States Office of the BLM has added online search access   to all Public Domain States under the jurisdition of the BLM, including Idaho. These states may  be accessed at  
GLO Records -- ESO

Copies of documents images are not available for the states outside ESO jurisdition (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin), but they may be obtained from the appropriate state using links provided when a sucessful search is done  Online Vital information includes: Patentee Name,Serial Number, Patent Authority, Patent Date, Public Land Survey Legal Descriptions, Acreage and LandOffice. Unless one needs or wants a copy of the actual document, that information is sufficient for genealogical purposes and to obtain copies of case materials from the National Archives.



U. S. Congress, AMERICAN STATE PAPERS: Public Land Series and Claims, Vols. 1-9 (Greenville, S. C., Southern Historical Press, Inc., rpt. 1994). Originally published under authority of Congress 1832-1861 by Gales and Seaton, Washington, D. C.

Phillip W. McMullin, GRASSROOTS OF AMERICA A Computerized Index to the American State Papers: Land Grants and Claims 1789-1837 (Greenville, S. C., Southern Historical Press, Inc., rpt. 1994; Orig. Pub. by Gendex Corp., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1972).

William Thorndale, "Land and Tax Records" Chapter 7",  The SOURCE, A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny, eds., (Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing Co., 1984),

E. Kay Kirkham, The Land Records of America and Their Genealogical Value, (Salt Lake City, UT, 1964: Deseret Book Co.)

National Archives and Trust Fund Board, "Land Records" Chapter 15, Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives (Washington, D. C., U. S. Government Printing Office, rev. 1985)

E. Wade Hone, LAND & PROPERTY RESEARCH IN THE UNITED STATES,   (Ancestry, Inc., PO Box 476, Salt Lake City, UT 84110-0476, 1997)


Once land entry information is obtained from BLM, case material may be ordered from the National Archives for both patented and failed entries. Supply the following information in a request to the archives:



Idaho State Office
Bureau of Land Management
Public Room
1387 S. Vinnell Way
Boise, ID 83709-1657
Tel:  208-384-3890
FAX:  208-373-3899
Idaho BLM Home Page: http://www.id.blm.gov/


National Archives & Records Administration
TextualReference Branch (NNR1-Lands)
Washington, DC 20408
Tel. 202-501-5400
Textual (Paper) Records and Presidential Materials

Donovan Yingst
Donovan Yingst
Page URL: http://home.rmci.net/dyingst//fedland.htm
� Donovan Yingst, 1998
UPDATE: 20 Jul 2000