Surveyors in the field used small books to record both survey data and notes as surveys were carried out. They often contain notes about buildings and topography, astronomical observations for charting coordinates, boundary marks and other details that go beyond what is shown in the Crown plans and other registered plans that resulted from the surveys.
The indexes of the Surveyors’ Field Books are now being transcribed and work on creating a free online database of the captured field book indexes has commenced. This will assist in the search and retrieval of the books as they are progressively transferred to State Records..
How can these records help?
If you are interested in a particular parcel or locality the surveyor’s notes may provide further information to what is shown on the Crown plan or deposited plan. They may also provide information regarding buildings, terrain and even flora and fauna. The notes are also useful in resolving uncertainties about boundaries as they contain information about boundary marks and how the survey was conducted.
Four series of books
The Surveyors’ Field Books consist of four key series:
These books were forwarded to the Surveyor General from licenced surveyors covering the years 1798 to 1947.
‘X’ and ‘Y’ series
1600 books issued to Department of Lands staff surveyors between 1925 and 1933.
Lands Department (LD)
8,700 books issued to staff surveyors between 1933 and 1974.
These books were used from 1974 and are numbered by year and region, each office using the same numbers.
Transferred field books can be requested for viewing at State Records NSW, Kingswood, or books can be retrieved by LPI for a retrieval fee.
To access field books undergoing data entry, or to find out if a book has been transferred to State Records, contact LPI’s Offline Property Information telephone 9228 6082, email PIDS@lpi.nsw.gov.au or visit Queens Square, Basement 1 West.
Alternatively, you can order a book through approved information brokers.
Records for purchase
You can arrange for pages to be copied at a fee from books still at LPI. For a fee, you can also arrange for books at State Records to be retrieved for viewing and copying.
The field books are identified by a field book number and by the name of the surveyor. In most instances these can be found on the Crown plan. It is useful to know an approximate date of the field book or survey and location details of the land, e.g. Parish and County.