Plat maps show a tract of land subdivided into plots. They are originally created prior to development by licensed surveyors, often in more rural areas. They must then be filed with the State Surveyor Office and approved.
Plats are based on the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), which uses a township-range-section coordinate system. More information on this coordinate system is provided below.
If you do not know the township, range and section number for the plat/parcel you're looking for, start by looking for the area on the Washington County or Benton County Township Range map.
Once you have these numbers, see the resources below to search for your plat. Please contact us if you'd like assistance.
The Louisiana Purchase collection provides scans of some of the original plat maps and survey notes from the survey of the Louisiana Purchase. There are some gaps in this online collection - see the Libraries' CD-ROM set below if you don't find what you need at this site.
This 12-disk CD-ROM set is a more complete version of the Louisiana Purchase survey listed above. It is available for checkout from the Performing Arts and Media Department on the first floor (basement) of Mullins Library. An instruction booklet is included in the CD-ROM set. I'm also happy to help - please feel free to contact me if you need assistance.
Interpreting the Maps
These plat maps are based on the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), which uses a township-range-section coordinate system. PLSS "divides land into 6-mile-square townships...Townships are subdivided into 36 one-mile- square sections. Sections can be further subdivided into quarter sections, quarter-quarter sections, or irregular government lots...Most PLSS surveys begin at an initial point, and townships are surveyed north, south, east, and west from that point. The north-south line that runs through the initial point is a true meridian and is called the Principal Meridian. There are 37 Principal Meridians, each is named, and these names are used to distinguish the various surveys. The east-west line that runs through the initial point is called a base line. This line is perpendicular to the Principal Meridian." More information: http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/boundaries/a_plss.html
Illustration showing the township-range-section system from the National Atlas.
The meridian used as the basis for surveying Arkansas (as well as the entire Louisiana Purchase area) is the 5th Principal Meridian. The baseline was based on the confluence of the St Francis River and the Mississippi River, while the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi was used for the Meridian. http://www.pmproject.org/5pm.htm
Map showing the intersection of the 5th Principal Meridian and Base Line used for the original survey of Arkansas and the entire Louisiana Purchase. From http://www.blm.gov/cadastral/meridians/5pmsouth.htm
Below is a list of plat maps owned by the University Libraries. You can also run a subject search in the libraries' catalog for "real property" and arkansas to find additional maps of family homesteads and land grants.