MDAH Introduces New Database of Historical Resources in State

A new online resource provides unprecedented amounts of information on the state’s historic sites, from photographs and blueprints to professional reports to digital maps. In addition to basic architectural data, the department’s Historic Resources Database contains images of buildings across Mississippi, plus information such as drawings, newspaper clippings, and other historical documents related to the structures. Users can search by location, style, age, and other categories.

With more than twenty thousand images—and more being added daily—the database provides visual information that would otherwise be difficult or time-consuming to find. Thousands of documents that were previously available only as hard copies are now available with the click of a button. These include all of Mississippi’s National Register of Historic Places nominations, which contain photographs and a narrative history of each property.

“The HR Database is the Google of historic sites in Mississippi,” said MDAH chief architectural historian Jennifer Baughn. “It’s the place to start when researching a property.”

In 1998 staff in the department’s Historic Preservation Division began digitizing information from the more than 40,000 files relating to properties around the state to create an electronic database for internal use. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, MDAH was able to use federal funding of more than $275,000 granted through the Mississippi Development Authority to make the database available online. The department worked with the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services, Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Geospatial Group, and other professionals to combine the department’s files on the state’s architectural and archaeological sites, scan thousands of other documents, and map above-ground historical sites using Geographic Information System (GIS).

Now, for the first time, the state’s historic sites and districts— ranging from local designations to National Register of Historic Places neighborhoods—are viewable using the Historic Resources Database’s GIS map feature. Municipalities around the state can use the information for local preservation efforts to avoid historic sites when planning for new roads and other projects.

Property owners can use the map to find out if their site is in a locally designated historic district and view the ordinance that created that district. The GIS feature can also be used to create walking tours within a town or driving tours to view historic sites.

While much of the HR Database is online free of charge, the department offers two levels of subscription service for researchers who need more technical information. The Level 1 subscription is geared toward researchers such as architectural historians and archaeologists and provides access to cross-reference tables and the ability to submit images and new structures for the database. Level 1 subscription is $100 per year.

A Level 2 subscription is  available only to qualified archaeologists and offer access to the archaeological site database, survey reports databases, scans of archaeological reports, and more. The cost of Level 2 subscription is $1,300 per year.

Check out the Historic Resources Database here.

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