USDA Soil Surveys of Georgia, 1901-1954

Ben Hill County
Soil survey map of Ben Hill County, Georgia, 1913

Soil survey maps provide an inventory of the different kinds of soils tested in a single area (such as a county), identify the areas that specific soils occupy, and aid in establishing a location’s suitability for specific residential or commercial use. Soil surveys were first authorized in the United States by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1896. Since that time, the surveys have been conducted and published regularly as part of a cooperative effort between the USDA and state and federal agencies as part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS).

While current soil classification data is useful for farming, land development and industrial planning, the cultural information that is also contained in some of these older survey maps provides researchers with information about old neighborhoods, historical structures, defunct railway lines, or how roads and highways may have changed geographically over time. Those with little interest in soil classification or historical geographic representation of Georgia’s counties will still appreciate the colorful maps and legends.

Soil survey map of Chatham County, Georgia, 1912


Eighty-five USDA historical soil survey maps are available in the Digital Library of Georgia, as part of the collection USDA Soil Surveys of Georgia, 1901-1954.


3 Replies to “USDA Soil Surveys of Georgia, 1901-1954”

  1. Attended a Surveying class before and I could definitely relate to how troublesome making soil maps such as these, more so when it represents part of the history.

    I’m interested if there’s more of these though, as they are very hard to come by..

  2. Thanks for your comment about soil maps. The collection that we have linked to in this article contains the digitized soil survey maps that are currently accessible through the Digital Library of Georgia. If you would like to find out about more historical soil survey maps that belong in University of Georgia collections, I would recommend contacting the University of Georgia Map Library at mapsinfo[at]uga[dot]edu . If you are interested in researching more historical soil maps online, I would recommend the University of Alabama’s Historical Soil Survey Maps collection at

    I hope that this information helps!

  3. These maps are also useful for historical research since they show roads, water courses, buildings, cemeteries, churches and schools as of the time of the survey being taken. Having as many of these maps online as possible would be an asset.

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