Tintype of a surveyor and chainman
with a vernier compass made by Levi Colton, taken around 1870. Catalog
The surveying and geodetic
instruments in the National Museum of American History reflect the
importance of these activities in America since the first European
colonists settled here some 400 years ago and turned the American
landscape into property. With these instruments, and others of their
ilk, Americans determined the limits of private and public lands,
the paths of transport, and the boundaries of colonies, states,
This site currently features
a selection of over 300 museum objects relating to surveying and
geodesy. You may access the collection in the following ways:
by Maker to view objects grouped
by maker and to see selected biographies.
by Instrument to view objects
grouped by type and to read generic descriptions.
a complete index of the objects
on the site.