U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Special Publications

Publication History

Prior to 1898, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey published information about geodetic, hydrographic, geophysical, and oceanographic methods in the annual reports of the Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, but finding the information became cumbersome. Therefore, in 1898 the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey began publishing the Special Publication Series to meet the need for a more efficient method of disseminating information to other Government agencies, academia and commercial organizations. Between 1898 and 1956, over 400 items were published in the Special Publication Series.


Please note that although Special Publication No. 1 - California, Bay of San Francisco, Magnetic Ranges for Determining the Deviation of the Compass, with Short Explanations of How to Find the Deviation and Error of the Compass - was published in 1898, the earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed nearly all of the range objects used in the 1898 publication, rendering that publication of little or no value. Accordingly, in 1920 a new edition was created by Fremont Morse, inspector of the San Francisco field station, under the recommendation of E. Lester Jones, Director of the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey.

Also note that Special Publication No. 158, Bilby Steel Tower for Triangulation, was first revised in 1940 and again in 1965. The second revision, which is identified as Publication 62-3, contains many additional details regarding the construction and dismantlement of Bilby towers that were not covered in the 1940 edition.

There are 28 Special Publications with the title, Plane Coordinate Intersection Tables (2 1/2-Minute), each of which was prepared for use in map making by a particular State and contains tables showing the plane coordinates for 2 1/2-minute intersections of meridians and parallels within the limits of the State. For the remaining 22 States, the place coordinate tables were not published as part of the Special Publications but as Publication 65-1 (Parts 1-52).

Scope of coverage

This page provides access to the Special Publications of the Coast and Geodetic Survey published from 1898 to 1956. Missing from this collection are Special Publications Nos. 55, 64, 72, 94, 102 and 248.

This page also provides access to Publication 62-3, Bilby Steel Tower for Triangulation, and Publication 65-1 (Parts 1 through 52), Plane Coordinate Intersection Tables (2 1/2-minute), published from 1957 to 1969. However, the following Parts are not online: Part 1 (Alabama), Part 7 (Delaware), Part 34 (Oklahoma), Part 35 (Oregon), and Parts 49-51 (Alaska).

How to Locate Special Publications

Several finding aids are available for the Special Publications. These two finding aids provide Number/Title/Date and Topic/Subtopic/Number/Title access to the Special Publications. To find the title associated with each Special Publication number, a searchable index, Coast & Geodetic Survey Special Publications, is included as a finding aid.

To display the publication you wish to see, click on the drop-down list below, choose the publication number and year, then click the "View Publication" button. Publication 62-3 and Publication 65-1 (Parts 1-52) can be found toward the end of the drop-down list.

Select the year of the of the supplement you wish to view
you wish to view.


Funding for this project was provided by the NOAA Climate Database Modernization Program (CDMP), National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC.

Please credit the NOAA Central Library Data Imaging Project when using these publications.

Contact Information

If you have questions or comments concerning the publications, or need further assistance, please contact:
Library.Reference@noaa.gov, 301-713-2600 ext. 157.