Cartography and surveying in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands (1845-1895)

  • Funding organisation: Dirección General de Investigación. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.
  • Reference: CSO2008-06031-C02-01/GEOG
  • Sum allocated: 40.000 €
  • Starting date: 01/01/2009
  • End date: 31/12/2011

Researchers in charge:

Urteaga González, José Luis

The professional scope of land-measurers broadened significantly in the second half of the 19th century. In addition to carrying out the traditional tasks of their occupation (surveying and valuation of rural estates, delimitation of properties and levelling operations), they had to respond to a rapidly- increasing demand which included the drawing of land-parcel plans for application of the land tax implemented in 1845, the confection of maps for the distribution of common land resulting from the disentitlement approved in 1855, and numerous measuring and valuation operations of rural estates caused by the expropriation of land for the building of the railway network. The cartographic documentation generated by these inspection activities, still badly known, constitutes a valuable piece of Spanish cartographic patrimony. The aim of this research is to recover and study the cartography of land-measurers, and at the same time, to re-assess the profile of this profession.



1 - To locate, catalogue and analyse the cartography of land-measurers in the Balearic Islands and Catalonia.

2 - To create a cartographic data bank with digitalised information, to guarantee the safe-keeping and accessibility of the documentation.

3 - To draw up a register of land-measurers and surveyors.

4 - To study the training and professional life of land-measurers and surveyors.



This research project is a direct continuation of two previous projects, led respectively by Francesc Nadal Piqué and José Luis Urteaga González: "Territorial statistics and land mapping in Spain: a local approach" (BHA2000-0720) and "Cartographic documentation of the taxation on property, crops and livestock (1845-1895)" (SEJ2005-07590-C02/01/GEOG). Consequently, the results capitalize on the effort devoted over a decade to studying nineteenth-century cadastral mapping. We also counted with the collaboration of Vicenç Roselló Verger and Francesca Rotger Moyà, who have completed with their own resources the cataloging and the analysis of the of the Balearic maps.

The research has allowed to locate, inventory and analyze the municipal cartography for the four provinces of Catalonia and the Balearic islands. Related to that has been compiled and published online a database of the Catalan cartographic documentation, which contains two hundred and fifty map references for a hundred and eighty five townships. We have published the book Cartografia i agrimensura a Catalunya i Balears al segle XIX (Barcelona, Cartographic Institute of Catalonia, 2011), which describes and analyzes the aforementioned documentation. It has also been partially cataloged and studied the administrative documents related to such cadastral maps. Within this latter area, we have edited the Estadística territorial de la provincia de Barcelona (1858), an unpublished work of a surveyor named Pedro Moreno Ramírez, which is kept at the Instituto Geográfico National archives.

We have built also an inventory of the surveyors working in Catalonia and Balearic Islands, and begun the study of their education and career. For much of the nineteenth century the surveyor's training perpetuated the very model of an art of the Old Regime. The craft was learned within the family or with an already established teacher. This situation changed significantly in the mid-nineteenth century, when surveyor's career was regulated. We have studied this change through different cases studies, and we were able to identify three different training routes: the studies of surveying that could be followed in secondary education institutes leading to obtain the title of  "Agrimensor, perito tasador de tierras"; the career of "Agrimensor y Aforador", that was studied at the Fine Arts Academies of first class and at the School of Architecture of Madrid; and, finally, the special studies of the Land Registry School, whose purpose was the formation of an official body of surveyors. Overall, research has led to forty publications.

1 The database has been updated within the project Diccionari de mapes parcel·laris i agrimensors a Catalunya (segles XVIII-XIX).