County of Marin - News Releases - Historic Survey Collection

For Immediate Release
September 23, 2015

Historic Surveys Secured for Public Viewing

Marin land surveyor sells collection to County for bargain price

San Rafael, CA – Through a collaboration between three County of Marin departments, a valuable collection of old local land surveys dating back more than 150 years has been secured perpetually for public viewing.

Surveyor Bill Schroeder waves during the Board of Supervisors meeting after selling his historical collection.On September 22, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the purchase of a collection that includes about 30,000 original maps, surveys, subdivision plans, field notes, work ledgers and indexes. The collection, believed to be worth in the neighborhood of $75,000, was bought for $45,000, and the Supervisors thanked local surveyor Bill Schroeder for his generosity as he passed on the documents to the Anne T. Kent California Room at the Marin County Civic Center Library branch in San Rafael.

The Department of Public Works, the Marin County Free Library and the Marin County Assessor’s Office worked closely with Schroeder to orchestrate the acquisition and will continue the teamwork as the items are put to use. Schroeder said the collection will be in County custody by the end of the year.

“It’s kind of been my identity for 27 years, so it’s sort of an end of an era for me,” Schroeder said. “We surveyors have a high standard of the work we do, and having this kind of information has been a point of pride in many ways. But I’m getting a good feeling about doing this.”

Many surveyors did not record their maps during the 19th century and early 20th century. Instead, title companies would visit a surveyor, view a subdivision map and then deed out of it. The legal description would reference “an unrecorded map,” and such maps are a key part of the newly acquired collection.

The documents include the private unrecorded survey files of prominent Marin surveyors including Hiram Austin, George Dodge, George Richardson, J.C. Oglesby and others, many of whom held the office of County Surveyor during their careers. Schroeder told the Supervisors that the collection has been passed along for generations and he happened to be the last in the line. Schroeder, who is nearing retirement, has managed the collection for 27 years.

The County expressed overwhelming support in obtaining the collection, and the library offered to manage the archive, similar to other historical document management it provides in the Anne T. Kent California Room.

“The collection has major local historical significance as an information source toward understanding the cultural history of Marin County through its physical development and planning,” said Scott Bauer, Deputy Director of the Marin County Free Library. “It provides unique and valuable background material that will be an important research tool for surveyors, historians, genealogists, local government agencies and neighborhood organizations.”

Marin Chapter of the California Land Surveyors Association contributed $15,000 toward the purchase and is actively pursuing additional private donations. The County’s $45,000 contribution will come from its Survey Monument Preservation Fund.

“There are a few other troves like this across the state,” Schroeder said, “and I think this could provide a model for others.”


Craig Tackabery
Chief Assistant Director
Department of Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive.
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6582
Email: Craig Tackabery
DPW website