Land Economic Inventory Maps (Bordner Survey) | Wisconsin Historical Society

Resource Description

About Land Economic Inventory Maps of Wisconsin (Bordner Survey)

Land Economic Inventory Maps (Bordner Survey) | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeForest and general cover map showing Rest Lake.

Vilas County, 1931.

Vilas County, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory (Bordner Survey) map. View the original source document.

Land Economic Inventory Maps document Wisconsin's landscape during the 1930s and 1940s. The Society has the original maps for each survey township mapped between 1929 and 1949. When used in conjunction with the U.S. General Land Office Surveyors' Field Notes and Plats, conducted between 1833 and 1866, you can compare the Wisconsin landscape before it was settled and approximately 100 years later.

How Land Economic Inventory Maps (Bordner Survey) Are Organized


The Land Economic Inventory Maps Collection (Bordner Survey) is available for viewing online via UW-Madison Digital Collections.


Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory maps are located in the Society's Archives. There are three sets of maps: field notes, small-scale printed maps, and large-scale printed maps. Maps are organized by county, then by township, range, and section.

Each map covers one survey township.

Milwaukee County was not mapped. Lincoln, Manitowoc, and Sheboygan County maps were not published. Land in Menominee County, established in 1961, is included as part of Langlade, Oconto, and Shawano Counties.

History of Land Economic Inventory Maps (Bordner Survey)

The Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory is a Depression-era project that mapped Wisconsin's land resources. The goal of the project was to document current and potential use of land in all parts of the state so that abandoned farms, cutover forests, and other "idle" land could be resettled, reforested, or otherwise put to productive use. This is also known as the "Bordner Survey", named after its director, John Bordner. Each map covers one survey township.

Field workers, usually trained foresters, crossed the land at intervals of one-half mile. They mapped current land use and land cover, signs of erosion, and size and quality of stands of timber. Included on the maps are such features as houses, schools, churches, taverns, cheese factories, filling stations, and logging camps.

Checking Out Materials

Most maps and atlases do not circulate and must be used at the Society's Library or Archives. Also, some may be sent to any of our 13 Area Research Centers around the state for viewing.

Purchasing Copies

Photocopies of documents in the physical collections are available for a fee. High quality map reproductions suitable for framing may be available for purchase from the Wisconsin Historical Society. For more information about purchasing a reproduction or licensing for commercial use, email

How to Cite

Bibliographic data will appear below each online document. Copy and paste the bibliographic data into your preferred citation manager.

Rights and Permissions

Online images from the UW-Madison Digital Collections may be printed or downloaded at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers and students, or for private use by individual researchers. Read more about the copyright for the UW-Madison Digital Collections.

Have Questions?

Contact our Library and Archives staff by email.