National Archives Publishes New Guide to Records of the American West
Press Release · Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Washington, DC…The National Archives announces publication of the sixth and final volume in its distinguished series of guides titled The Trans-Mississippi West, 1804–1912: A Guide to Federal Records for the Territorial Period compiled by staff archivist Robert M. Kvasnicka.  Winner of the Society of American Archivists’ C.F.W. Coker Prize for Innovative Archival Description and the Thomas Jefferson Prize for Finding Aids awarded by the Society for History in the Federal Government, the collection describes records in the National Archives of the United States that are associated with the American West.  

Published in two volumes, Part IV: A Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period, Section 3 highlights records of the General Land Office, the Federal agency responsible from 1812 to 1946 for supervising the surveying, management, and disposition of the public domain the execution of all laws relating to public lands.

The textual, cartographic, and photographic documents described in this essential guide show the manner in which the General Land Office accomplished its mission and the impact of Federal Government policies on the people and lands of the contiguous states between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.

Included are descriptions of records pertaining to land-grant railroads, Indian and forest reserves, mining claims, and private land claims in areas acquired by the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican War, as well as the land entry papers documenting the thousands of individual transactions transferring the public lands to private ownership. These records are an invaluable source of information for environmental and family historians as well as the historians of our Nation’s westward expansion.

Other titles available in The Trans-Mississippi West series are:

  • Part I: A Guide to Records of the Department of State for the Territorial Period
  • Part II: A Guide to Records of the Department of Justice for the Territorial Period
  • Part III: A Guide to Records of the Department of Agriculture for the Territorial Period
  • Part IV: A Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period
    Section 1, Records of the Offices of the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Railroads
  • Part IV: A Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period
    Section 2, Records of Select Agencies

The 1,130-page two-volume set is available in softcover for $49 (plus shipping and handling) from the National Archives Trust Fund, 1-800-234-8861. The volumes can also be purchased online from the National Archives e-Store.

About the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal agency, is the nation's record keeper. Founded in 1934, its mission is unique —to serve American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. We ensure continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. We support democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives meets a wide range of information needs, among them helping people to trace their families' history, making it possible for veterans to prove their entitlement to medical and other benefits, and preserving original White House records. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.


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