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THE CURRENT STATE OF HISTORIC STRUCTURE SURVEY

METHODOLOGY AND THE INCORPORATION OF DIGITAL


TECHNOLOGY

A Thesis Presented

by

Phillip L Barlow

to

The Faculty of the Graduate College

of

The University of Vermont

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements


for the Degree of Master of Science
Specializing in Historic Preservation

May, 2005
Accepted by the Faculty of the Graduate College, The University of
Vermont, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master
of Science, specializing in Historic Preservation.

Thesis Examination Committee:

______________________Advisor
Thomas Visser, MS

______________________
Robert McCullough, Ph.D.

______________________ Chairperson
Glen S. Elder, Ph.D.

______________________ Vice President for Research and Dean of


Frances E. Carr, Ph.D. the Graduate College

Date: April 8, 2005


Abstract
State historic preservation offices in the United States were handed the duty of
determining what historic resources remain in their communities by the 1966 National
Historic Preservation Act. The traditional historic resource survey method that developed
was to utilize a 35mm camera with black and white film and a paper form for recording
information in the field. The forms and photographs would be saved by each
preservation office in large file systems that would be accessed by searching manually.
These paper forms would typically record information about the resource features,
history, and geographic location. This approach provided archival stability, but could be
costly and cumbersome. Recent improvements in digital technology however, offer
tantalizing promises of increased economy and efficiency. As a result, most state historic
preservation offices across the United States are now adopting several digital tools to
accomplish their tasks.

To assess how historic resource surveys are being redesigned due to the introduction of
digital tools, an online survey was distributed nationwide in 2004 to obtain a significant
sampling of current historic resource survey techniques. This thesis will address the
results of this survey, critically examine the most popular digital survey tools, and
provide three case studies of digital historic resource survey activity.

Additionally, this thesis addresses the issue of incorporating existing analog files into
digital database systems. Transferring this data into a digital format improves the
accessibility of the information and, with proper text recognition, provides a keyword
searchable database. This conversion and collection into a database can be completed
with consumer level electronics and applications, making this an economical and
practical solution for preservation offices of varying size and ability.

The potential benefits of this research are increased productivity in historic research,
more comprehensive database systems, accurate information for preservation planning,
and an efficient means for communicating data.
Acknowledgements

Many, many people need acknowledgement for their help on this project. To all

the people who gave advice, offered suggestions and pointed me in a better direction, I

thank you. Specifically, I would like to thank Thomas Visser, my advisor, for his

continuous help and support, Nancy Boone, who made the initial suggestion to

investigate the new methodologies emerging alongside technology, Robert McCullough,

for his advice throughout, and my committee chair Glen Elder. David White, Lyssa

Papazian, Eric Gilbertson and Eric Ingbar deserve thanks for technical support and

patience with my questions. A very large thank you goes out to the many members of the

National Council for State Historic Preservation Officers, who responded quickly and

generously to my online survey

Special thanks go out to my classmates; Eileen, Elizabeth, Jamie, Mary, Nicole,

Roger, Sara, Sarah and Stephanie. They were the source of many good discussions and

acted as guinea pigs on more than one occasion, which I wholeheartedly appreciate.

I would like to thank my family, for without the support I would never have been

able to go as far as I have; thank you Mom, Dad, Matt, Dan and Jean.

Finally, I thank my wife, Christy Barlow. If not for her endless love, devotion,

pushing, prodding, and utter commitment I have no idea where I would be, but it could

not be as happy a place as where I am now.

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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS....................................................................................................................ii

INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................. 1

CHAPTER 1 - THE 2004 BARLOW SHPO SURVEY........................................................................ 11

CHAPTER 2 - EXAMINATION OF POPULAR DIGITAL TOOLS ................................................. 36

Digital Storage .............................................................................................................................. 36

Digital Camera.............................................................................................................................. 39

PocketPC and Notebook ................................................................................................................ 42

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) ........................................................................................... 45

Global Positioning System (GPS)................................................................................................... 48

Geographic Information System (GIS)............................................................................................ 50

CHAPTER 3 - CASE STUDIES: PROSPECT PARK, SOUTH HERO AND THE VERMONT

DIVISION FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION ................................................................................. 57

PROSPECT PARK CASE STUDY ............................................................................................................. 57

SOUTH HERO CASE STUDY .................................................................................................................. 62

THE VERMONT DIVISION FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION CASE STUDY .................................................. 67

CHAPTER 4 - IMPLICATIONS.......................................................................................................... 80

BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................................................................................................. 86

APPENDIX ........................................................................................................................................... 91

TEST RESULTS OF THREE OCR PROGRAMS ........................................................................................... 91

NCSHPO SURVEY RESPONSES ........................................................................................................... 98

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Introduction

Due to the nature of digital technology, this thesis may perhaps be an exercise in

limited utility. By the time it reaches your hands, the technical content may already be

dated. However, while hardware and software develop and change with the flow of

technology and demand, it is the goal of this thesis to present concerns and solutions that

will remain relevant for years to come. Therefore, while the technical aspects of the topic

will be discussed in detail, it is important to note that the main purpose of the discussion

is to explore the direction in which we will move, rather than act as a snapshot in time.

The role of historic structure surveys as a tool for historic preservation planning and

regulation has been explored by many, but the final government authority on the matter

in the United States is the National Park Service (NPS). National Register Bulletin 24:

Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis for Preservation Planning, is the NPS document

that sets forth the how, when and why of local surveys. Borrowing select subject

headings from Bulletin 24, this thesis will begin by examining NPS policy and how it

relates to what is being presented in this study of digitally recorded historic resource

surveys.

What is a Survey?

National Register Bulletin 24 defines survey as a process of identifying and gathering

data on a community’s historic resources.1 Features such as building mass, construction

materials and historic context are all examples of what is being recorded. In the United

States, a major step was taken by the federal government to encourage identification and

1
Anne Derry et al., Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis for Preservation Planning, National Register
Bulletin 24 (Washington DC: National Park Service, 1985), 2.
1
the recording of historic sites within the 1966 passing of the National Historic

Preservation Act (NHPA). This act was born of concerns about the impact of urban

renewal and was influenced by the report With Heritage So Rich, which argued the need

for a comprehensive national preservation effort. In regards to surveys, a key portion of

the 1966 act was to expand the National Register of Historic Places to include properties

of local and statewide significance. It also authorized federal matching funds to states for

surveys and preservation planning and established State Historic Preservation Offices, or

SHPOs.2

According to the National Council of State Historic Preservation Officers, the SHPOs

act as delegates of the Secretary of the Interior, their duties being defined as:

• Locate and record historic resources;


• Nominate significant historic resources to the National Register of Historic Places;
• Foster historic preservation programs at the local government level and the creation
of preservation ordinances;
• Provide funds for preservation activities;
• Comment on projects under consideration for the federal historic preservation tax
incentive;
• Review all federal projects for their impact on historic properties in accordance
with Section 106 of the Act and the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic
Preservation; and
• Provide technical assistance on rehabilitation projects and other preservation
activities to federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector.3

Initially when the National Historic Preservation Act was passed it was assumed that

states could complete their surveys in a few years, but this goal has not been met for a

variety of reasons, including low federal funding and growth of survey content due to

expanding NPS and SHPO interpretations on what was “significant”. Although 182,800

2
Robert E. Stipe, A Richer Heritage (North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 10.
3
National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, “About NCSHPO,” Washington DC,
http://www.ncshpo.org/about/
(accessed March 12, 2004)
2
historic properties had been surveyed by 1980, nevertheless the NPS put pressure on

SHPOs to increase survey activity throughout the 1980s. The mid-80s saw a decline in

the number of buildings surveyed due to state and federal budget constraints and other

program pressures.4

As survey data grew to accommodate vernacular buildings, rural landscapes, and

other historic resources that make up the American identity, new means to record and

store this information developed. Various computer database systems were adopted to

assist in organizing survey data, and by 1996 several SHPOs reported progress with

implementing database and GIS systems.5 This migration to the digital environment

continues today, with many SHPOs having designed unique and adaptive systems to

record their historic resources.

Why undertake a historic resource survey?

The preservation process, as defined by Robert Stipe in A Richer Heritage, has five

steps. The first is to set standards that define what is worth preserving. This can be

controversial however, and is addressed in the following section, “What kinds of

resources should the survey seek?” The second step is to undertake a survey to locate

and describe potential resources. Third is to evaluate the resources, fourth is assigning an

official status to those that qualify, and fifth is following up with protective measures.6

This approach is echoed by the National Park Service, which states in National

Register Bulletin 24 that the immediate reason for conducting an historic resources

survey is “to gather information needed to plan for the wise use of a community’s

4
Stipe, A Richer Heritage, 87.
5
Stipe, A Richer Heritage, 87.
6
Stipe, A Richer Heritage, 29.
3
resources.”7 This data is used in the preparation of a preservation plan, a document that

sets procedures for gathering information and how historic resources are to be managed.

The preservation plan is seen by the NPS and SHPOs as an important part of

comprehensive community planning, which can aid in the conservation of historic

resources, as well as provide design standards for new construction.8

Beyond administrative requirements, recording information about cultural resources

also serves the purpose of ensuring that information about these resources is preserved.

James Martin Fitch stresses the importance of completing these inventories as quickly as

possible because of the potential loss of resources due to ever-increasing urbanization.

Fitch used the term “salvage archaeology” to describe the situation of staying one step

ahead of the bulldozers, in an effort to record what may soon be forever lost. It is also

recognized that many times historic resources are allowed to be destroyed due to neglect

and ignorance of the significance of what was there. All these factors illustrate why

comprehensive surveys are important to preservation.9

What kinds of resources should the survey seek?

Much of the focus of preservation has historically placed an emphasis on properties

of the wealthier, upper-class, urban facets of society. Churches, castles and grand estates

are some examples of what was considered to be “historically significant”. Literate

society provided many of the historical clues upon which societies based their knowledge

of the past, but this often excludes the tangible evidence of the lives and work of the

majority of the population. This has led to the dismissal of most examples of vernacular

7
Anne Derry et al., “Guidelines for Local Surveys”, 3.
8
ibid.
9
James Marston Fitch, Historic Preservation: Curatorial Management of the Built World (Virginia:
University Press of Virginia, 1982), 307.
4
architecture in all but the most relatively recent years.10 Over the past several decades,

however, interest in more broad-based aspects of societies have grown and what is

considered “significant” has expanded as well. This has led to a more modern inclusive

attitude toward assigning significance. However, nearly everything may be significant to

someone, and so proceeding with a discussion of survey methodology would be difficult

without considering this crucial issue.

The concept of historical significance is of primary interest for those charged with

surveying historic resources. Since buildings may relay information about the past, and

so in that sense they have a history, but how can a standard of significance be

established? The official criteria utilized for the National Register of Historic Places is:

“The quality of significance in American history, architecture , archeology,


engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects
that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling,
and association, and:
A. that are associated with events that have made a significant
contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
B. that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past;
or
C. that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or
method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or
that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and
distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual
distinction; or
D. that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important
in prehistory or history.”11

These standards leave considerable room for significance to be argued, which will

undoubtedly occur for the foreseeable future. Whether or not something is significant is

10
Fitch, Historic Preservation, 24.
11
Anne Derry et al., “Guidelines for Local Surveys”, 5,6.
5
not an undeniable facet of a building’s history, but rather a characteristic that is defined in

the present.12

To explore these issues of significance in historic preservation, in 1997 the

National Council for Preservation Education and the NPS sponsored a conference at

Goucher College of Baltimore, Maryland, titled Preservation: Of What, For Whom? At

that conference, Suzanne Pickens addressed the concept of “silent criteria”, examples of

which she identified as societal pressures, social, economic, legal, political and aesthetics.

These characteristics have little to do with the historical value of a building, yet are often

major influences on decision making. Pickens argued that these influences are taking

precedence in many cases, and thereby are weakening the integrity of the National

Register of Historic Places.13 When decisions about the historic significance of buildings

are made based on political pressures or feelings about aesthetics, the nomination criteria

of the National Register is devalued, and the status of all other listed buildings is

lessened. This argument illustrates the concept of significance being less of an inherent

value and more of a bargaining tool for achieving goals. Aesthetics especially has this

characteristic, as Striner made clear when he stated “Preservationists tend to save historic

places that appeal to their own sensibilities.”14

An example of this can be found as recently as the 2004 November/December

issue of Preservation magazine, the cover of which features 2 Columbus Circle, in New

York City. While the National Trust for Historic Preservation has listed 2 Columbus
12
Howard L Green, “The Social Construction of Historical Significance” in Preservation of What, for
Whom?, ed. Michael A. Tomlan, (New York: National Council for Preservation Education, 1997), 90.
13
Suzanne S. Pickens. “The Silent Criteria: Misuse and Abuse of the National Register” in Preservation of
What, for Whom?, ed. Michael A. Tomlan, (New York: National Council for Preservation Education,
1997), 194.
14
Richard Striner. “Determining Historic Significance: Mind over Matter?” in Preservation of What, for
Whom?, ed. Michael A. Tomlan, (New York: National Council for Preservation Education, 1997), 140.
6
Circle on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the New York City Landmarks

Preservation Commission stated that the building does not “possess a special character,

heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation.”15

To provide some background, 2 Columbus Circle was erected in 1964. It was

designed by Edward Durell Stone for Huntington Hartford, heir to the A&P supermarket

fortune, who used the space to create the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art.

The building was ornate, with distinctive 1960s moderne features that drew many critics.

The museum left in 1969 and the building was occupied by a variety of tenants. The

building sits vacant today, owned by the city.16

Preservation invited four professionals to comment on the controversy, including

an essayist, two architects, and an architectural historian. A quote from two sides of the

issue provides insight into the debate.

According to Phillip Lopate:

“Two Columbus Circle is by no means a total aberration: It has the courage of its
blandly chichi, cocktail-party convictions, even a sort of predictive postmodernist
charm. For better or worse, we have come a long way from the early 1960s, when 2
Columbus Circle, adorned with halfhearted lollipops and porthole windows, seemed
an affront to purist eyes. Still, I see no reason to protect this clunker.”17

Robert A.M. Stern countered:

“Some critics say that New York is short on world-class buildings by world-class
architects. Well, here is one that is full of ideas about site, image, history, and the
freedom that comes with modernity. Transforming the building into a new home of
the Museum of the Arts & Design need not be done at the expense of Stone’s design.
Can we not live in the present and work with the past?”
Such questions will remain with preservation indefinitely, changing with the winds of

fashion and social pressure. The closing comments of the Preservation: Of What, For

15
James Conaway et al, “What Should We Do With 2 Columbus Circle?,” Preservation, Nov/Dec 2004, 21.
16
ibid.
17
Phillip Lopate, “What Should We Do With 2 Columbus Circle?,” Preservation, Nov/Dec 2004, 21.
7
Whom provides guidance for how professionals must address this issue. To answer who

defines historical significance, the suggestion is that professionals “must insure that all

segments of society are involved, with open, honest discussion at all levels of

government and everyone in the private sector. It is in this discussion that we will learn

about changing perceptions and learn when and why cultural resources are deemed

significant. This, in turn, will resolve what we cherish in the future.”18

Once decisions have been made about what is to be recorded, choosing the

method with which this information is recorded becomes the next factor that influences

the data. The adoption of digital technology creates many new factors to consider, such

as the ability of digital media to faithfully replicate analog counterparts and the

implications of improved public access to data. These and other issues are shaping the

way historic surveys are being recorded, however no national effort has been

implemented to study the process and provide recommendations.

This is the task that this thesis takes on; to investigate how digital technology has

been adopted into the survey process and to discuss the benefits and potential drawbacks

of each. As has been mentioned above, broadening of the concept of historic significance

has expanded the range of resources eligible for surveys, which has increased

responsibilities for state and federal preservation offices. Many offices have been using

digital tools for many years to ease this workload, while some SHPOs are only now

beginning to test the waters. It is important to note here that digitization has applications

beyond accomplishing a task more efficiently. Combined with access via the internet,

one researcher notes that “Digitization transcends the constraints of physical form and

18
Michael A. Tomlan. “Closing Comments: Tying It All Together” in Preservation of What, for Whom?,
ed. Michael A. Tomlan, (New York: National Council for Preservation Education, 1997), 208.
8
place, allowing for the co-location of dispersed materials as a uniform body of

knowledge”.19 Methods of research are being developed that were impossible before, as

is explored below in the examination of GIS. However, no national standard have yet

been set to guide SHPOs in the implementation and maintenance of these digital systems,

and as a result a wide variety of approaches are in place.

To get a sense of what is occurring on a national scale, a web-based survey was

developed to record information about what digital tools that have been adopted, the

process (if any) that offices have implemented to incorporate paper files into digital

database systems, the features that are being recorded, and the level of security assigned

to their data. With the help of Eric Gilbertson, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer

of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, this survey was distributed on the

National Council for State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) listserve, an email

listing for each state office in the nation.

With results from twenty-five states, a variety of tools came to be recognized as

most popular. In the interest of distributing as much information as possible about these

tools the chapter following the survey discussion addresses six of these tools and

considers their potential benefits. To demonstrate the utility of these techniques and

devices, their use is followed through three applications in the state of Vermont that this

researcher was involved in. Representing a variety of situations, these case studies

provide solid information of the “live” use of these products and go beyond simple

speculation of benefits.

19
Anne Kenney and Oya Rieger, Moving Theory Into Practice: Digital Imaging for Libraries and Archives
(California: Research Libraries Group, 2000), 8.
9
In the final case study, a system is created by the researcher to aid in the

incorporation of paper files into a digital database. This system utilizes relatively

inexpensive software and hardware to produce text from scanned images of typed paper

documents, all of which can be performed in-house. This system can provide an efficient

research tool for many SHPOs, and has the additional benefit of centralizing data.

All of this information and analysis culminates in the conclusion that the use of

digital technology for historic surveys is a subject that requires a national discussion and

continual education. These tools have become accepted as new standards, and as such

need to be included in preservation curriculum and conference discussions. Many

institutions that are responsible for cultural material have already begun this process, and

it is one of the most important steps in creating a sustainable and usable digital system.

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Chapter 1 - The 2004 Barlow SHPO Survey
The Current Use of Digital Technology in Sites and Structures Surveys

In the fall of 2004 a web-based survey was developed to determine the variety of

survey methods that SHPOs had implemented nationwide. This survey was distributed to

state historic preservation offices in the U.S. through the National Conference of State

Historic Preservation Officers listserve. The goal of this survey was to gain a

comprehensive knowledge of the digital tools adopted by SHPOs, and what procedures

had been developed.

Twenty-five SHPOs responded, representing the states of:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, Illinois, Maine,

Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South

Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

What follow are the questions that were asked, an explanation as to why the

question was asked, and the responses that were received. Overwhelmingly, digital

technology has been adopted at least in some respect. Digital cameras were in use nearly

across the board, and Geographic Information Systems were not far behind. In March of

2005, the National Register of Historic Places released their revised digital photography

policy. Digital photographs printed with appropriate techniques are now acceptable for

submission with National Register nominations, which further legitimizes the adoption of

the technology. As discussed later, many SHPO professionals consider digital cameras to

be essentially the equivalent of the 35mm film standard except for large format printing.

Results of this survey are available without narrative in the appendix.

11
The first question asked, what techniques are currently being used in your

historic resource surveys?, concerned the current techniques that are being used by

SHPOs to conduct historic surveys. The respondents were given a list of seven common

survey tools to select from, of which they could select all that were applicable, and an

empty text field to enter any tools not listed. The purpose of this question was to

determine the current state of SHPO adoption of digital tools, and how that information is

being processed. The list of survey tools provided was as follows:

B&W Photography
Digital Photography
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Paper Checklist or Fill in the Blank Forms
Personal Data Assistants (PDA)
Notebook Computers
CAD/ Measured Drawing
Any additional techniques not mentioned here?

The first tool on the list, Black and White (B&W) 35mm film photography, has

long been the standard for producing high quality archival prints. The results of this

survey show that 96% of responding organizations still rely on the black and white 35mm

photography for their archival work and National Register nominations. Recently

however, digital cameras have dramatically increased image resolution, and advances in

digital printing technology have extended the archival quality at a reduced price.

Economically, many organizations would like to move towards digital to reduce overhead

from purchasing film, wasted film, and elaborate development.

A price comparison of the two (all prices are from April, 2005) further

demonstrates the economy of digital, with the quality tradeoff lessening rapidly.

Purchase price of 35mm film cameras and digital cameras are typically comparable, so

12
for the purposes of this comparison the initial purchase price is set at $1000.00 for both.

While the cost of batteries for digital cameras may be considered a recurring expense, the

use of rechargeable batteries reduces the replacement time considerably.

Table 1 price comparison - digital v. film


Initial Cost Film Developing Cost to survey 200

Kodak - 120 Black 8x10 buildings

& White Print Film

T-MAX ISO 100

35mm Equal $5.9920/roll of 36 $12.7521 $53.91 (film x 9 rolls)

(assuming that 300 (work done by $2550.00 (8x10 x 200)

images will be professional, 2603.91 (Total)

taken to achieve archival B&W)

200 acceptable

prints)

Digital Equal None $3.55 $709.84 (Total)

(see price

breakout below)

20
Ritz Camera online, “T-Max ISO 100 product details,” Ritz Interactive Inc.,
http://www.ritzcamera.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&l
angId=-1&productId=919443&bct=t1003%3Bc1006%3Bp3376144
(accessed April 18, 2005)
21
Light Works online, “custom print services price list,”
http://www.lightworksvt.com/images/price_customprints.pdf
(accessed April 18, 2005)
13
The price for digital archival prints was determined as follows. The recent

acceptance of digital images by the National Register of Historic Places was

accompanied by guidelines for what was considered acceptable archival printing.

Wilhelm Image Research Inc. is an institute known for their testing of various printers for

archival stability. Their findings indicate that, among other printers, the Epson R800

inkjet printer, in combination with Epson Premium Glossy Photo paper and Ultrachrome

ink can produce color images that remain stable for over 200 years in dark storage, far

exceeding the 75 year requirement set forth by the National Register.22

Therefore, the price per image was obtained by taking the initial purchase price of

a new Epson R800 - $399.0023, adding the price of 200 sheets of Epson Premium Glossy

Photo Paper – $34.99 /50 sheets24, and the price of Ultrachrome Blue, Red, Yellow,

Magenta, Cyan, Black ink cartridges ($14.24 each - assuming two full sets needed)

$170.88.25 This totaled $709.84, which when divided by 200 yields $3.55 per image.

Determining exactly how many images can be printed with a particular ink

cartridge is a difficult factor to quantify. Given that there are six ink cartridges which are

used in varying amounts for each image, and that altering settings for how an image is to

be printed can significantly alter ink consumption, it would be difficult to concretely state

22
Wilhelm institute, “Epson R800 test results,” Wilhelm Imaging Research Inc.,
http://www.wilhelm-research.com/epson/R800.html
(accessed April 15, 2005)
23
Epson online, “Epson R800 description,” Epson America Inc,
http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&oid=37472319
(accessed April 15, 2005)
24
Epson online, “Epson price list,” Epson America Inc.,
http://www.epson.com/cgi-
bin/Store/ProductMediaSpec.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&infoType=Overview&oid=-
8776&category=Paper%20&%20Media
(accessed April 15, 2005)
25
Epson online, “Epson ink price list,” Epson America Inc.,
http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/BuyInk.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&oid=37472319
(accessed April 15, 2005)
14
that two sets of ink will produce 200 images. Therefore consider in this calculation that

the cost of ink necessary to complete the job may vary. However, the significant cost

advantage of this system is evident and the cost of ink alone will not alter the findings

significantly.

A further advantage of this system is that this price includes the initial purchase

price of the printer, which can be used for many more surveys. Each time more images

are printed using this system the cost of the printer continues to be depreciated, and it

effectively pays for itself.

The second tool available as an option is digital photography. As discussed

above, digital photography has grown into a tool of the serious photographer as indicated

by the 80% positive response rate to this question. Increased mega- pixel resolutions

have brought quality to a level nearly consistent with 35mm film cameras. The major

concern with digital is the archival quality of the prints. Using accelerated aging tests on

prints from ink jet printers, researchers have found that, for example, Epson ink-jet ink

can last 200 years in dark storage.26 For further discussion on digital cameras and issues

of quality, please see chapter two.

26
Rob Sheppard, “Misinformation: The (non?-permanence) of inkjet prints,” Digital Photo Pro Magazine,
May/June 2004, 130.

15
The third technique available as an option is Geographic Information Systems

(GIS). Geographic Information Systems are computer applications that allow users to

organize database information visually. Used for years by various fields, GIS software

has developed into a database tool that is useful for anyone maintaining large quantities

of data that spread over a geographic area. Natural resource management technicians, for

example, use GIS to create maps that represent large areas with “layers” of information to

represent wetlands, densely wooded areas, animal populations, etc. The spread of GIS

systems into the historic preservation field is relatively recent, but has become very

popular, as represented by a positive response of 84% of those surveyed.

An example of how GIS software can be used by preservation offices comes from the

Vermont SHPO, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The Vermont SHPO

uses their GIS database to organize historic resource data. As part of this program, their

statewide sites and structures surveys are now being recorded in the field with a handheld

computer and the mobile GIS technology of ESRI ArcPad software. Gnomon, Inc. of

Carson City, Nevada designed an interface that allows the user to enter orthographic

photos into the ArcPad program and create new survey forms with a custom interface.

Via a combination of drop-down menus and editable forms, the user can complete the

building survey in the field. This field data can then be exported into the desktop survey

management software that Gnomon developed to work in conjunction with the handheld

and the primary GIS.

16
The fourth option available to respondents for this question was paper checklists or fill in

the blank forms. While digital cameras and GIS systems are being rapidly adopted, the

84% positive response to this survey question indicates that a majority of SHPO

respondents are still using pen and paper forms for recovering field survey information.

Forms vary from agency to agency; most will record information on the buildings style,

materials, owners, location, and history. While digital alternatives exist, the pen and

paper approach is the most flexible, allowing the surveyor to quickly jot down notes or

sketches in the field. These notes are then directly entered into a filing system or typed

into a database form.

The fifth option available to respondents provides an alternative to the pen and

paper method via the use of a digital personal data assistant (PDA). Available in a

variety of configurations, PDA’s can be customized to suit survey needs. Only 12% of

the respondents indicated their offices are conducting surveys using PDA systems. This

may be a result of the additional cost of a PDA, or simply that a different system is more

appropriate for the majority of those surveyed. Whatever the case, PDA systems are

improving as a system for transferring field data into a larger database system and

warrant further investigation. The benefits of the PDA approach are the removal of an

extra step (entering the hand written information into a database) and the creation of

standardized information fields.

Again using the example provided by the Vermont Division for Historic

Preservation, their PDA unit is loaded with ArcPad, a mobile version of the ESRI GIS

software, and a custom application developed by Gnomon to allow survey form creation.

17
Data is entered into the unit via a stylus and either handwriting recognition or manual

letter selection from a keypad.

Some considerations:

• Staff will have to be trained in the use of the device and its applications.

• If secondary software will need to be developed for your specific situation,

additional funds will be needed to cover the cost.

• Study areas that do not have geo-referenced orthographic photos will still need

some method for determining location. Either a USGS map or Global Positioning

System (GPS) technology.

• Surveyors will need access to a computer to connect the handheld device for data

backup and transfer.

The sixth available option was to utilize a notebook computer. Like the personal

data assistant, a notebook computer can be a powerful tool to have in the field. With

more power, storage and capabilities than a PDA, it seems a likely choice when switching

to a digital method for field note retrieval. The 32% positive response from SHPOs to

the question bear out this opinion, but considering the fact that some respondents choose

both paper surveys and notebook computers, it is likely that the notebook is not always

used as the primary tool for collecting the field data.

One of the most convenient notebook computers for this activity is the Tablet PC.

With a screen that folds completely back like a regular paper notebook and can save

handwritten notes, it is a very appealing option. Some drawbacks however, are:

18
• The weight of the Tablet PC and its size may prove difficult for some people to

deal with in the field. Combined with the prospect of destruction and loss of data

if dropped, this may be a significant consideration.

• Glare on the screen has been reported to be a nuisance (this has been found to be

the case with the PDA as well).

• Initial expense is significantly greater than that of a PDA. While one gets more

power and storage, it may not be necessary if the Tablet PC is used solely for

survey work.

The seventh option, CAD and/or measured drawings is usually reserved for

buildings of particular importance or those that face eminent demolition, CAD or hand

drawn measured drawings faithfully reproduce a buildings elevations and features with as

much detail as possible to preserve the cultural information that a structure contains. A

standard method of documentation since the inception of HABS/HAER, measured

drawings require a great deal of work hours, training, and skill. Respondents indicated

that only 12% use this advanced technique when surveying buildings.

19
The eighth and final option was to provide information about techniques that the

respondent had developed but were not available as one of the options. Many

respondents used this space to address their use of database programs that were

implemented to manage survey data. Many database programs, such as Microsoft Access

and FileMaker Pro, can run on standard desktop computers or small servers. There are

trade-offs in this approach, as with any other.27

Two types of database management can be supported by these desktop programs,

the relational database management system and flat-file system. The relational system is

more complex and powerful than a flat-file, but not as easy to set up. Each has its

advantages in certain situations however, so consideration of needs and resources should

be considered throughout the database selection and design process. The advantage of

using a desktop system for designing a database is economy, as most of the necessary

hardware and software is affordable and relatively easy for staff members to learn. The

disadvantage however, is that these systems may lack the power of larger systems and all

database design and construction is up to the user.

What follows are the systems that SHPO respondents to the 2004 survey found to

be ideal for their offices.

“The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has developed, in partnership with the
VDOT, an online application named DSS (short for Historic Resources Data Sharing
System) for collecting survey data. Every site, both architectural and archaeological, that
is surveyed must be entered by the surveyor into our database via the internet. The
application is password protected. Those that wish to pay a fee can access the site reports
and locate sites geographically using an ArcIMS that is integrated.”28

27
Peter B. Hirtle, “Image Management Systems and Web Delivery,” in Moving Theory Into Practice. Ed.
Kenney A. and Rieger O., (California: Research Libraries Group, 2000), 126.
28
Trent Park, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond Virginia.

20
“Data entry in web-based Oracle database.”29

“thin-client data collection”30

“Access based database for Statewide Historic Property Inventory records which is then
linked to GIS.”31

“We are in the process of developing a web-based GIS interface and Oracle database --
expected to be operational in the summer of 2004.”32

“Digitization of architectural database is in process and has not yet been completed.”33

“GPS data collection for some properties”34

“We are scanning site forms and liking them to our on-line database (Compass) and then
we microfilm the digital files for long-term archival storage. This is a very slow
process!”35

“I got this from the person who built our database, Chris Tidwell.

The date input device is a customized software called Survey DM that runs on the local
users machine (no need for an internet connection to input surveys). Survey DM is built
to allow users to edit the surveys within the application as often as they like. It prohibits
deleting of the surveys by any means other than through the application This eliminates
deleting the files by accident).The surveys are stored on the local users machine until an
internet connection is made and the users chooses to up load the surveys within the
application.

Upon connection to the database, the server actually pulls the surveys off the users
machine. This eliminates any unwanted files being sent to the central database (i.e.
viruses, hacker code,large format images, etc).

The actual data base for the State of Alabama is built in MYSQL (a free and very
powerful database). The software will work with MYSQL, SQL 2000, MS access, and
just about any other database program which we would convert for them if they are
interested.”36

29
Jim Draeger, Wisconsin SHPO.
30
Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, Michigan SHPO.
31
Megan Duvall, Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
32
Dave McMahan, SHPO/Alaska.
33
Alice M. Baldrica, Nevada SHPO.
34
Todd Tucky, Ohio Historical Society Ohio Historic Preservation Office.
35
Meg Van Ness, Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
36
Lee Anne Hewett, Alabama SHPO (Alabama Historical Commission).

21
“We are going to begin scanning National Register nominations soon. We are using our
Minolta copier which has scanning capabilities. Still in discussion about OCR or not.”37

“WHS has been in a database system for the last 15 years. I am unsure of the original
program that was used to convert the data. Our next step is to scan images, surveys, and
other documents and link the images to the current web-based program (WisAHRD).”38

37
Tami Koontz, Charleston, WV.
38
Suzanne Fitzgerald, Wisconsin Historical Society/Madison.

22
To gain a better understanding of how paper survey information is being utilized,

the second question in this survey, what methods have been employed to convert paper

records into a digital format?, addresses the issue of paper records that are currently on

file. These documents may represent decades of information and are becoming historical

in their own right. While having two database systems (digital and analog) is the easiest

and cheapest approach, for maximum efficiency it would be best to incorporate the paper

records into a digital system. Some of the benefits of such a conversion are ease of

information access and increased research ability. Digital files can be hosted on a server,

making them available for research to anyone around the world with an internet

connection. While this was always an option with scanned images of paper documents,

advancements in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) programs have the potential to

create text documents from these images.

While not a valid option in the past, OCR programs are now able to convert typed

documents into searchable digital documents. Many even retain the original image of the

document in conjunction with the processed text. For a more in-depth discussion of this

process and a comparison of two consumer level OCR programs please see chapter two.

The respondents were given a variety of options, of which they could choose as

many as were applicable, with a blank text field for additional comments. The options

provided were:

a) Manual entry into a word processor or database program


a1) If manual entry, what program was the data entered into?
b) Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software?
b1) If OCR, what program was used?
b2) What scanner brand and model?
c) Scanning the paper document and saving it as an image
d) No plans to convert paper documents

23
e) No method has been selected yet, but it is on the schedule for the future
f) Any methods not mentioned here?

The first available option is manual entry into a word processor or database

program, which 88% of survey respondents indicated as being their method for

transferring paper survey records into word processors or digital database programs.

While relatively reliable, this is also a time intensive process and thus potentially costly.

Either a current staff member takes on the job or a data entry specialist could be brought

in. Depending on the quantity of paper data and the speed of entry, this could be a long

tedious process. The benefit would be that the data can be entered in any format, so the

old data can be entered in exactly the same method as new data, becoming easily

incorporated into the system. This makes database queries more likely to return correct

data and does not require using additional hardware or software.

A second portion of this question asks what program the respondent is entering

the survey form information into. The response to this question again illustrates the

variety of solutions available to an organization. The various database responses are

recorded here with a brief description. These database programs can perform alone or

networked between multiple users by hosting the application on a server. This is vital

when users will be importing and accessing survey data from a non-central location.

The Microsoft Corporation has created two of the most popular database software

packages, Access and Microsoft SQL. Microsoft Access is primarily a data management

tool with tools to enter, edit, index and retrieve data via custom forms and reports.39

39
online dictionary, “hyperdictionary”, Webnox Corp.
http://www.hyperdictionary.com/dictionary/Microsoft+Access
(accessed February 1, 2005)
24
While useful, and perhaps more appealing to people familiar with Microsoft software, the

flaw of Access is in its ability to deal well with massive amounts of information. For

users who anticipate a database that will exceed two gigabytes, a more robust system is

needed. Microsoft SQL 2000, another database system selected for use by responding

SHPOs, is an example of a more robust database. The SQL language is used to

interrogate and process data in a relational database, and was originally designed by IBM

for their mainframes. 40

The SQL language is the industry standard for relational database management

systems, and is the basis for most of the following systems. While database programs

will typically add proprietary alterations to the SQL language, the base commands should

be standard across all systems using this language.41

Two other options that utilize the SQL standard are Visual FoxPro and Oracle.

Visual FoxPro is designed by Microsoft to be a relational database that can access

information across the SQL standard from other database applications such as Microsoft

SQL server and Oracle. 42 Oracle is one of the most popular relational database systems

due to its full feature set and power. 43

40
answers.com, “SQL Definition,” GuruNet Corp.,
http://www.answers.com/sql&r=67
(accessed February 1, 2005)
41
Hyperdictionary, “SQL Definition,” Webnox Corp.,
http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=sql
(accessed April 6, 2005)
42
Online dictionary, “Information of Database Systems”, Massachusetts
http://searchdatabase.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid13_gci213705,00.html
(accessed February 1, 2005)
43
Mike Chapple, “Oracle Definition”, New York
http://databases.about.com/cs/oracle/g/Oracle.htm
(accessed February 1, 2005)
25
When a database becomes too large to be handled efficiently by small-scale

software, many users make the switch to an SQL server. To reduce retraining costs and

time, it is possible to access the SQL server through the interface of the original database,

which is the solution two respondents chose. The response given in the survey was to

utilize the Microsoft SQL server using an Access interface for one respondent, and the

Argus interface with another.

Another popular database standard is dBASE, which is the basis for Visual

dBASE, another database selected by a SHPO. With origins in a system named Vulcan,

in 1981 it was bought out and renamed dBASE II. The format has become a standard and

is supported by nearly all database systems. Even systems not based on dBASE are

usually able to import and export files in this format. 44

Other database solutions that respondents have chosen likely operate on one of these two

standards. The software packages indicated were Altos, Survey DM, a UNIX based

database, and DSS.

44
Webopedia, “Small Business Computing Terms”, Connecticut,
http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/dBASE.html
(accessed February 1, 2005)
26
Moving beyond the concept of manual entry, the second available option to covert

paper records into digital files is Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. OCR

is the process of taking the image that is produced from scanning a paper document,

analyzing the image and trying to interpret what it sees as text or an image. Many OCR

programs have a variety of options for output type, such as Microsoft Word, Excel or

Adobe PDF. The best results have been obtained with PDF output when retaining the

context of the document is most important, as it imbeds the text with the original image.

Only 12% of respondents are using OCR software to convert their paper records

to digital files. If a paper document is handwritten, or of poor print quality, OCR will

not likely produce usable results without a significant amount of fine tuning. However,

many of the problems that OCR is known for have been addressed in recent years. Three

OCR programs were tested for this thesis to measure the variability of quality. The

variables considered were:

• Maintenance of original form formatting

• Number of characters recognized correctly/partially/missed completely

• Ability of document to be text searched for a set of values

One program, Abbyy FineReader 7.0, http://www.abbyy.com/, produced text documents

that were adequate for research purposes. Test results for each program tested are

available in the appendix.

A problem with the OCR system is integrating it into an existing database system.

Many of the respondents choose database systems that operate based on entering

information into fields. This is an ideal method for organizing data as it standardizes data

and allows users to research with specialized queries. However, OCR output may

27
generate errors and does not easily lend itself to automated data entry. Well it may be

possible to parse the recognized text from a survey file, the variety of layouts and errors

in recognition make this approach less than ideal. OCR still has its uses, as will be

discussed more thoroughly in chapter two.

To determine what solutions had been designed by SHPOs, the OCR option had

two sub-sections, the first asking what OCR program was used, and the second asking

what scanner brand and model. The wide range of quality in OCR software and scanners

makes choosing a particular product difficult. These questions were asked to determine if

SHPOs had come to any conclusions about a standard of quality they demanded for their

digitization needs. The fact that only three respondents are using OCR to convert text

indicates that many are unaware of the process or that the current technology does not

meet their needs.

Of the three respondents who are using OCR for their data conversion, one

contracted out the work to a professional firm. The other configurations were the Ascent

Capture 5.5 program in conjunction with the Fujitsu 4750c scanner and Text Bridge with

the Epson Perfection 636 scanner.

Most scanners offered today will provide the necessary quality needed to perform

quality OCR. Some considerations for selecting a scanner would be the ability to auto-

feed multiple pages, the ability to scan large format documents, and the amount of human

interaction needed to complete a task.

A more difficult task is choosing an OCR software package that will adequately

balance economy and quality. Considerations for selection are addressed in the flow

28
charts available in the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation case study in chapter

three.

The third option available for converting paper documents was to scan the files

and save them as images. This is a simple method to make paper documents available to

a wide audience and easily transferable. The process is to scan the paper surveys and

catalogue the images on compact discs, hard drives, or in PDF format on the internet.

40% of respondents indicated that they have been scanning documents as their method

for conversion. While more convenient, these images still lack the research abilities of a

standard database. Looking for a particular feature still requires the user to read through

the images to find information. A solution to this problem requires a combination of

manual entry and document scanning. By including significant details from the survey

in the image metadata it would be possible for the researcher to at least narrow down

their search quickly.

A pitfall to avoid would be considering these images capable of substituting for a

traditional archive. Once the pages are scanned they cannot simply be thrown out to free

up space.

According to Abby Smith, who warns:

“Digitization is not cheaper, safer, or more reliable than microfilming. Unlike a


frame of high-quality microfilm, a digital image is not a preservation master, even
if is referred to as a digital master. At present, the only direct way that digital
reformatting contributes positively to preservation is when the digital surrogate
reduces physical wear and tear on the original or when the files are written to
computer output microfilm that meets national standards for quality and
longevity” 45

45
Abby Smith. “Real-Life Choices” in Moving Theory Into Practice. Ed. Kenney A. and Rieger O.,
(California: Research Libraries Group, 2000), 2.
29
The fourth option available to respondents for converting paper documents was

not to address the issue at all and leave the documents in their current state. As this

option was never selected, it is assumed that all of the respondents are pursuing some

digital form of document conversion. This is an important testimony to the validity of

digital conversion and an indicator of future patterns.

The fifth option available was to indicate that a method has not been selected yet,

but is on the schedule for the future. In conjunction with the findings of the previous

paragraph, only one of the SHPO respondents does not currently have a system in place,

but are in planning.

Finally, the respondents had the chance to provide information on any of their

methods that were not available as an option. The quotes that follow are the approaches

that respondents volunteered as their alternative to the listed options.

“Electronic inventory form application for the collection of inventory data. Data is
entered and the forms are generated using Crystal Reports”46
(Crystal Reports is a Windows based report writer that can access data from most
databases and integrate data from a variety of sources47)

“Microfilm the digital files for long-term archival storage”48

“Scanning photographs”49 (In conjunction with manual entry into a database)

46
Todd Tucky, Ohio Historical Society.
47
Online dictionary “Crystal Reports,”
http://searchvb.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid8_gci214605,00.html
(accessed April 6, 2005)
48
Meg Van Ness, Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
49
Paul R Picha, State Historical Society of North Dakota.
30
The third question in the survey, what architectural site features are recorded? ,

sought to determine what was being recorded in these historic resource surveys. Since

the data being recorded influences the methodology of recording, it is important to see

what characteristics other SHPOs consider significant. The following is a list of features

that are commonly used to describe historic structures. The respondents were asked to

select the characteristics that are currently being recorded in their surveys.

Landscape
Materials
Foundation
Stylistic Details
Physical Condition
Wall Structure
Wall Covering
Roof Style
Number of Stories
Entrance Location
Number of Bays
Approximate Dimensions
Appendages (ex. porches, towers, cupolas)
Statement of Significance
Historic Themes
Auxiliary Buildings
Narrative

The survey indicated that all of these features are being recorded by at least a few

offices, and several provided additional features. There are two tables in the appendix,

one that breaks each selection and its response down individually and another that lists

the additional features that are being recorded but were not available as a selection.

The features listed are all examples of what can be recorded in an historic

structure survey. The level of detail is determined by the purpose of the survey and the

capabilities of the agency. Most historic site surveys focus on the exterior qualities of

structures, but what details are considered significant may vary from person to person.

31
Although the NPS and SHPOs may provide guidance to surveyors on which features

should be assessed for significance, the most typical features recorded (as ascertained

from survey responses) are auxiliary buildings (88%), building materials (80%), and

stylistic details, roof style, and narrative (all 76%). The statement of significance, usually

several paragraphs detailing why the building is historically significant, was being

recorded by 80% of the respondents.

32
The final question in the 2004 SHPO survey, to what degree are your surveys

available to the public?, addresses the security of historic resource data. What follows

are a list of the security options that were available to survey respondents. The purpose of

this question is to determine if utilizing digital tools has had an impact on the

accessibility of data.

Available online for everyone to access.


Available online only for registered users.
Available in paper format for everyone that requests them.
Available in paper format only for approved users.
Archaeological survey information is restricted, all else is publicly available.
Archaeological survey information is treated in the same manner as other survey
data.

As public agencies, most SHPOs have a legal obligation to provide public access to the

survey information that they collect. In Vermont, this obligation is outlined in the

statutes under Chapter 5, Title 1, Section 316, which states, “Any person may inspect or

copy any public record or document of a public agency…..”50 A public record is defined

as “all papers, documents, machine readable materials or any other written or recorded

matters, regardless of their physical form or characteristics, that are produced or acquired

in the course of agency business.”51

This requirement is yet another facet that must be given careful consideration

before implementing a digital system. In most cases, simply maintaining the existing file

cabinet data system (assuming that new surveys are being printed out and included) will

provide a place for the public to access records. However, if the desire is to allow access

to as many people as possible, online database systems are the standard. Creating a

50
Vermont Statutes, Annotated, General Provisions, Ch. 5, T.1, §316
Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. 2003.
51
Vermont Statutes, Annotated, General Provisions, Ch. 5, T.1, §317
Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. 2003.
33
database system that allows users to access and search for data online will greatly

increase public awareness of the agencies goals and accomplishments, and provide a new

resource for researchers worldwide.

The chart below lists the survey responses. The two questions being addressed

are how the sites and structures survey information is handled, and if archaeological data

is treated in a similar manner.

Table 2. 2004 Survey - security results


Positive response Percentage of total

Available online for 4 16%


everyone to access
Available online only for 7 28%
registered users
Available in paper format 17 68%
for everyone that requests
them
Available in paper format 5 20%
only for approved users
Archaeological survey 18 72%
information is restricted, all
else is publicly available
Archaeological survey 1 4%
information is treated in the
same manner as other
survey data

The data indicates that 44% of respondents have made their data available on the internet,

but only 16% are allowing everyone to access the data. By setting up a registration

system for their online resources organizations have the opportunity to review applicants.

Registration also creates a database of users that the organization can study to determine

who their primary users are.

34
Paper documents are not guarded as closely, with 68% of respondents indicating

that they allow anyone who requests access to use their archive, while 20% require that

users be approved before being allowed access.

While only 72% of all respondents indicated that their archaeological data is held

under more security than the rest of their survey data, the fact is that not all organizations

would be dealing with archaeological data. This skews the results, so it is not possible to

make generalizations based on this figure. However, it does demonstrate that this is the

accepted practice by at least a majority of SHPOs. Due to its sensitive and fragile nature,

archaeological data is often held to a different legal standard than other data. In

Vermont, “information which would reveal the location of archaeological sites and

underwater historic properties”52 is exempt from public inspection and copying.

These restrictions are for the protection of the site, but seem to restrict the public

from its own historical information. This is addressed in additional stipulations that

ensure the data is widely available. While information about the sites is restricted, the

artifacts removed are the property of the state, which has the obligation to utilize them

“for scientific or public educational purposes.”53

52
Vermont Statutes, Annotated, General Provisions, Ch. 5, T.1, §317
Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. 2003.
53
Vermont Statutes, Annotated. General Provisions, Ch. 14, T.22, §762
Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. 2003.
35
Chapter 2 - Examination of popular digital tools
Digital Storage

It has been suggested before that digitization of records should not to be

considered a preservation process beyond that of protecting the original from unnecessary

wear and tear by improving access to a digital surrogate. This is primarily due to the

issue of vulnerabilities in digital storage. Changes in hardware and software can render

data unreadable in as little as five years. However, this does not have to mean that all

digital data being produced today is doomed to oblivion. There are approaches to this

problem, but it is an ever-changing field that requires vigilance to remain up to date.

Rather than approach this issue from a software/hardware setup, it is better to consider

storage as an ever-changing plan with a core of best practices. No matter how the data is

stored, what matters is that it is done in a manner that is efficient and provides good

documentation.

Many libraries have begun digitization projects for their collections. A key theme

is including planning for the preservation of the digital materials in every step of the

digitization process. According to Gail Hodge,

“..the preservation and archiving process is made more efficient when attention is
paid to issues of consistency, format, standardization and metadata description in
the very beginning of the information life cycle. The Oak Ridge National
Laboratory (Tennessee, USA) recently announced guidelines for the creation of
digital documents. Limits are placed on both the software that can be used and on
the format and layout of the documents in order to make short and long-term
information management easier.”54

54
Gail Hodge, “Best Practices for Digital Archiving,” D-Lib Magazine, 6, no. 1(2000): via
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january00/01hodge.html
(accessed March 7, 2005)
36
What is important to note is that planning for data preservation is an always on-

going process. The data manager must stay current with new developments and

standards and plan effectively to maintain the system. A common standard is for the data

to migrate to the latest storage device every 4-5 years, necessitating an on-going effort on

the part of the data management staff.55

An important aspect of the subject of standards is metadata. Metadata, briefly, is

data about data. Essentially notes to accompany your digital files, metadata records vital

information such as how to access or use the file, what the file contains and how it was

created. Good metadata is key to any digitization project as it will tell future data

managers how to organize and access the information. Stored in a database, the metadata

should describe the digital project with catalogue information and a complete history of

the process.

Metadata for administration and preservation records data associated with the

functions of digital resources and ensures long term accessibility. This metadata,

however, must in itself be preserved for long term access, which presents a functional

problem. Some steps towards a solution include identifying data elements considered

vital to preservation. An example of what elements should be recorded are identified by

Carl Lagoze and Sandra Payette as,

• “Characteristics and features of images (e.g., MIME type, file


format, spatial resolution, compression)
• Image production and reformatting features (e.g., image and
system target information, scanner make/model/serial number)

55
Gail Hodge, “Best Practices for Digital Archiving,” D-Lib Magazine, 6, no. 1(2000): via
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january00/01hodge.html
(accessed March 7, 2005)
37
• Image identification and integrity (e.g., universal identifiers,
integrity checksums, important linkages to other metadata)”56

The metadata collection is but one aspect of maintained digital records for

preservation. Some approaches to long term storage are explained in Hughes book,

“Digitizing Collections, Strategic issues for the information manager”. Here are three

approaches to the problem.

• Refreshing: Moving a file from one storage medium to another to avoid

problems with incompatibility or degradation

• Migration: Changing the encoding of a file from on format to another.

The example given was the migration of datasets from Dbase to SQL.

This will ensure that the data progresses towards standard and

contemporary formats

• Emulation: Creation of new tools that replicate the files original operating

perimeters, basically mimicking earlier programs or operating systems.57

Unlike their paper counterparts, there is nothing static about digital storage. Data

will be continuously moved, converted into new formats and reassessed for quality.

Digital records can be maintained through careful and ongoing planning, and continuous

investment. At the beginning of any digitization project, planning for its preservation is

the best investment to ensure its success. For the latest information on this topic please

visit the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Project at:

http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/index.php

56
Carl Lagoze and Sandra Payette. “Metadata: Principles, Practices, and Challenges” in Moving theory into
Practice. Ed. Kenney A. and Rieger O., (California: Research Libraries Group, 2000), 96.
57
Lorna M. Hughes, Digitizing Collections, strategic issues for the information manager (London: Facet
Publishing, 2004), 205.
38
Digital Camera

The National Register for Historic Places has officially created a digital

photography policy that sets rules for accepting digital prints with nominations. Since the

inception of the register the standard has been 35mm black and white prints at least 3.5x5

inches or preferably 8x10 inches printed on double or medium weight paper with a

standard finish.58 These materials have proven stable in an archival environment,

meeting the requirement of 75 years without fading, discoloration or deterioration. The

new policy is an acceptance of digital images printed with tested inks and papers. This

indicates that the digital format is now, in this application, the equivalent of film.

Two issues are of primary importance when considering the digital camera as a

replacement for 35mm black and white; quality of the image produced and stability of the

printed document. The principle difference between a traditional 35mm and a digital

camera is that instead of exposing film, most digital cameras capture information on a

charge coupled device (CCD). A collection of tiny light-sensitive diodes called

photosites; the CCD converts photons (light) into electrons (electrical charge). As these

diodes are sensitive to light, the brighter the light that hits a single photosite, the greater

the electrical charge that will accumulate at that site.59 This has an impact on the quality

of the image as the size of the CCD dictates the number of pixels that it contains.

Discussion of image quality leads to the issue of resolution.

58
Linda F. McClelland, “Guidelines for completing national register of historic places forms: National
Register Bulletin”, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1977.
59
Gerald Gurevich and Karim Nice, “How Digital Cameras Work,”
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/digital-camera2.htm
(accessed March 9, 2005)
39
There are many, many opinions about digital cameras and the necessary

resolution to create a quality image. Megapixel rating is the primary selling point for

digital cameras, and more is always better. The megapixel rating is determined by

measuring the number of pixels that can be recorded along the horizontal and vertical

axis. A megapixel is one million pixels, so to produce an image of 1600x1200 pixels the

camera needs 1,920,000 pixels, or approximately 2 megapixels.60

According to Norman Koren, a photographer who has conducted his own research

which is published on his website, several digital cameras can now claim to have higher

resolutions then their 35mm counterparts. This claim is made by scanning an image

taken with a Fuji Provia 100F at 4000 dpi and sharpening the image. With this as the

basis for comparison, a Canon EOS-1Ds with a 35.8x23.8mm sensor size, (43.0 mm

diagonal) and rated at 11.4 megapixels has a slightly higher resolution than traditional

film. Further information on test methodologies and results for other cameras can be

found at http://www.normankoren.com/Tutorials/MTF7.html. 61

In order to comply with the National Register requirements for submission, the

images preferably need to be 8x10 inches. Frank H. Phillips, a software developer,

expresses the necessary resolutions to achieve a desired size. This information indicates

that to achieve an 8”x10” image with a print quality of 300 dpi, the image needs to have

dimensions of 2,400 x 3,000 pixels. This means to achieve the quality desired by the

60
Frank H. Phillips, “Understanding Resolution,” Alabama,
http://www.digicaminfo.com/resolution.htm
(accessed March 9, 2005)
61
Norman Koren, “Understanding Image Sharpness,” Colorado,
http://www.normankoren.com/Tutorials/MTF7.html
(accessed April 7, 2005)
40
National Register for Historic Places, the camera needs to able to record 7,200,000

pixels, or 7.2 megapixels, to produce an 8x10 at 300 dpi62

For historic survey work it is not necessary that the quality be as high as what is

required for nominations. If the goal is to quickly and economically create an image

database of historic resources a compromise in quality can be made. However, it should

be noted that one of the benefits of digital cameras is that the initial investment is the

primary expense. If no prints are to be made, and assuming the use of rechargeable

batteries, the price of the camera and accessories can be depreciated with every structure

recorded, while a traditional camera continuously requires film and developing.

Stability of the printed document was the primary obstacle for the adoption of

digital images. Without an archival method for printing digital images, and due to the

inherent instability of digital storage media, is has been hard to put faith in the media.

Recent studies have been exploring the use of inkjet printers to produce archival images,

many producing promising results.63

Test results such as these indicate that digital prints and photographs are fast

becoming a reliable alternative to traditional chemical film development. Using the

requirements set forth by the National Register as a guideline, preservation agencies

should soon have documented justification for switching solely to the digital format for

all documentation.

62
Frank H. Phillips, “Understanding Resolution,” Alabama,
http://www.digicaminfo.com/resolution.htm
(accessed March 9, 2005)
63
Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. is a recognized contributor in this field, with test results for many
printers on their website at http://www.wilhelm-research.com/. The appendix of this document contains
their analysis of the Epson R1800 from February 15, 2005. Their analysis describes the methods used to
estimate lifespan for various combinations of paper and storage. Printing with Epson UltraChrome Hi-
Gloss inks on Epson heavyweight Matte paper, their research indicates that the image will be stable for 185
years in album or dark storage with a temperature at 70 degrees and 50% relative humidity.
41
PocketPC and Notebook

Finding a suitable replacement for pen and paper can be more difficult than it

seems. The simplicity of this analog system of recordation is its primary attraction, with

few digital devices that can compete in the field. Surveyors are switching to digital

devices though, and it is primarily due to what happens after the fieldwork is completed.

Handwritten notes are difficult to read, so field notes are typed before entry into a

database. This duplication of effort is removed by utilizing a digital tool that allows the

user to enter data into a database compliant form.

Two popular choices for mobile data entry are the Hewlett-Packard Pocket PC

and notebook computers. Both go by a variety of names, Pocket PC’s are also referred to

as a PDA (personal data assistant) and a “notebook” can be called a “laptop”. They both

serve the same purpose of combining software and hardware to provide a user with the

ability to accomplish a variety of tasks. What follows are basic definitions for each and

some of the benefits and drawbacks of using these devices for survey work.

Pocket PC (PDA)

A handheld device that has multiple software capabilities; most commonly being

used for scheduling, note taking, and email. Interface is with a touch screen and stylus,

most featuring a form of handwriting recognition.

Benefits and Drawbacks

There are two major mobile operating systems on the market right now, one

compatible with Microsoft Windows, and the other created for Palm, which is more

Macintosh compatible. This discussion will focus on those with Microsoft Windows

compatible products, due to the requirements of ArcPad, a type of Geographic


42
Information System (GIS). ArcPad was created by ESRI as a mobile GIS, and features

many configuration options for data collection in the field. Please see the Vermont

Division for Historic Preservation case study for a system developed around this

technology.

PocketPC’s are easy to hold, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive (as of March

10, 2005, roughly $500 for an Asus Mypal 730 with 640x480 color screen and 64MB)64.

A potential drawback is that the hardware is not as powerful as what one would find in a

notebook and memory is limited. Overall, a handheld computer is a fine choice though,

and these are used by many professions who take notes in the field.

Notebook Computer

Notebook computers are fully featured computers that are often the equivalent of

standard desktop computers. Common features are word processing, wireless internet

access and large data storage capacity. Interface is through a built in keyboard, or if built

in a tablet configuration, an optional stylus.

Benefits and Drawbacks

The benefit of a notebook computer is having the full capabilities of a computer

with the surveyor in the field. Additionally, if the notebook is used as a primary

computer, there is no need for data transfer or conversion between programs.

Disadvantages include size, price, and method for entering data. Often between 5 to 7

pounds, notebooks can become cumbersome when trying to switch between additional

devices in the field. When considering how to input data, this juggling act becomes even

64
Laura Blackwell, “Top Ten PDA’s”, PCWorld.com, California,
http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,118251,00.asp
(accessed March 9, 2005)
43
more complicated. A potential solution to this problem is the tablet notebook

configuration, which allows the user to write on the screen with a stylus. Designed as the

replacement for a sketch pad, these devices show promise but early reviews of the hand

writing recognition have not been positive. Finally, the cost of a notebook that is

designed to be used outdoors is more expensive than less durable models (as of March

10, 2005, the Hewlett-Packard nr3600 was listed at $4099.)65

65
Tom Krazit, “HP’s New Notebooks Take A Beating”, PCWorld.com, California,
http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,115267,00.asp
(accessed March 9, 2005)
44
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Simply put, optical character recognition (OCR) software analyzes an image,

converts what it sees into text, and outputs a document. Many companies offer OCR

software with wide variations in quality and features. OCR is included in this discussion

of digital tools because of its potential for converting paper survey forms into digital

files. Please see the South Hero and Vermont Division for Historic Preservation case

studies below for a demonstration of OCR in use.

Traditional digital conversion is done by hand-typing the document into a digital

format. Accuracy of hand-typing is still the industry standard, the highest and most

expensive being 99.995%, or one error in 20,000 characters. The alternatives to this

approach are “uncorrected OCR, OCR corrected through a single pass of software-

mediated proofreading, and fully corrected OCR”66. While advances in OCR have made

its use more feasible, there are many variables to consider before implementing a

digitization program. Accuracy of text conversion is not perfect. For extremely accurate

text documents, someone will need to edit the converted document to find errors. If

accuracy is a quality that can be compromised for economy, the technique discussed in

the Vermont Division case study will be an appropriate approach. Quality of the original

document will be a primary factor in the ability of the OCR program to interpret the text.

Handwritten documents are still beyond the ability of these programs, and poorly printed

or copied documents can be problematic as well.

66
John Price-Wilken. “Access to Digital Image Collections: System Building and Image Processing” in
Moving theory into Practice. Ed. Kenney A. and Rieger O., (California: Research Libraries Group, 2000),
112.
45
Outsourcing of OCR work is common for many institutions that have neither the

time nor resources to conduct the work themselves. Satisfaction levels with these

services were gathered in an Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Preservation

Committee survey of ARL member libraries in June 2000. The survey was designed to

gather information on member’s preservation programs and the involvement of

preservation staff within digitization.

In response to the question requesting a level of satisfaction with contracted

preservation services, 87 libraries responded with a mean level of 1.6 out of a scale of 1

(very satisfied) to 4 (very dissatisfied). This indicates that OCR work being returned is

slightly better than satisfactory for the needs of research institutions.67 As OCR programs

grow in sophistication, this figure will likely rise, or the process will move in-house.

The process of OCR begins with the paper document, which should be scanned at

high resolution to ensure high accuracy. 600 dpi rather than 300 dpi always produces

better results.68 Adjusting brightness, resolution, and contrast can significantly improve

text recognition, so if the initial results are poor they may be improved by altering the

settings. This produces an image of the paper document, which is saved on the computer.

The OCR program is then opened and the file that was scanned is imported and ready for

analysis. After analysis, the OCR program will allow errors in recognition to be fixed,

which will improve the accuracy of the finished product. Once complete, the OCR

program will typically allow one to select the format for the converted document.

Standard options are ASCII text, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Adobe PDF.

67
Janice Mohlhenrich. Preservation and Digitization in ARL Libraries (Washington, DC: Association of
Research Libraries, 2001), 26.
68
Price-Wilken, Moving Theory into Practice, 114.
46
Another option within this process is utilized in the Vermont Division for Historic

Preservation case study. For documents that have been scanned previously, or when a

perfect scan is not possible, it is possible to create a hybrid product. This document will

be a combination of the converted text and the original image. This is usually

accomplished with the Adobe PDF format. The advantages are a faithful replication of

the original layout, and a reduction in the need for an extremely high OCR accuracy. A

disadvantage is an increase in file size, due to the inclusion of the original image.69

OCR will undoubtedly become widely accepted into the digital toolbox as future

advancements continue to improve accuracy, and the price of hardware continues to

decline.

69
Kenn Dahl, “OCR Trends and Implications” in Moving theory into Practice. Ed. Kenney A. and Rieger
O., (California: Research Libraries Group, 2000), 111.
47
Global Positioning System (GPS)

A GPS device determines location through signals received from orbiting

satellites and complex calculations. GPS systems are now integrated into various

devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, and vehicle systems. An important feature found

with most GPS units is the ability to record waypoints, which are locations that the user

defines and stores on the unit. Recording waypoints at distinct points on a landscape

feature creates a digital connect-the-dot, which can be used by itself or in conjunction

with GIS analysis. Accurate handheld GPS units can be found for a few hundred dollars,

which make them an affordable addition to the toolkit. Useful for situations in rural

surveys, or for plotting landscape features difficult to identify on an aerial orthophoto,

GPS can be an important tool for the digital surveyor.

To calculate location the Navstar Global Positioning System uses 27 satellites,

which are orbiting 12,427 miles above the earth, ground monitor stations, satellite upload

facilities, and civilian/military receivers. Using extremely precise timing, the satellites

transmit two frequencies of microwave signals which are picked up by the GPS receivers.

These receivers determine how long is took the signal to travel from the satellite, which is

then used to calculate distance. This procedure is known as trilateration. Doing this with

four or more satellites simultaneously allows the device to calculate latitude, longitude

and height. The unit will also synchronize its clock with the central GPS system, which

is crucial for accurate distance calculations.70

70
Richard B Langley, “In Simple Terms, How Does GIS Work?”, University of New Brunswick, Canada,
http://gge.unb.ca/Resources/HowDoesGPSWork.html
(accessed March 10, 2005)
48
Improving on this method of positioning, the Federal Aviation Administration

(FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) are developing the Wide Area

Augmentation System, or WAAS, to aid in precision flight approaches. This system

consists of 25 ground reference stations and two master stations on each coast. These

stations work in conjunction with the GPS data and correct for satellite orbit, clock drift,

and signal delays caused by the atmosphere and ionosphere. This corrected signal is then

broadcast to one of two geostationary satellites, and is available to anyone with a WAAS

enabled GPS receiver. With the corrected signal, accuracy improves to three meters (9.8

feet) 95% of the time. This system is only available in North America for the time being,

as no ground stations have been installed elsewhere.71

71
Garmin, “What is WAAS?,” Garmin.com, Kansas,
http://www.garmin.com/aboutGPS/waas.html
(accessed March 10, 2005)
49
Geographic Information System (GIS)

The connection between Geographic Information Systems (hereafter referred to as

GIS), historic preservation policy, and planning lies in the need for a good information

gathering system at the heart of an organization. What GIS provides better than a

conventional database is a way to compile various data visually, allowing for a

comparison of multiple variables simultaneously. In the context of planning, we need to

determine what it is about the structure or area that is significant and how it relates to our

past.

Another more intensive use of GIS is within the context of historic research.

According to a NPS website on mapping history using GIS, “Modern maps when used

with historic maps help historians decide where to survey for historic or archaeological

resources or create historic easements.”72 The collection of data into a visual database

allows researchers to explore hypotheses and perform statistical analysis of variables that

they consider to be significant. The value of the spatial database is that the variables can

be created as layers which are laid over a geographical representation of the study area.

These layers can be viewed all at once or selectively, allowing the researcher to visualize

new connections that may not have been obvious before.

GIS and the study of history are examined in a collection of case studies titled

Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History. An excellent illustration of the role GIS and

digital technology can have in preservation work is seen in the Lowe paper, “Telling

Civil War Battlefield Stories with GIS”. This paper describes the work of the Cultural

72
John J. Knoerl, “Mapping History Using GIS”, National Park Service,
http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/gis/knoerl.htm
(accessed March 15, 2005)
50
Resources GIS facility, which is an office within the Park Service. They have been

locating and mapping historic resources within parks for more than eight years, and have

demonstrated the utility of digital tools for integrating park activities.73

Acknowledging the applicability of satellite imagery and aerial photography for

identifying natural resources, Lowe prefers the use of hand-held GPS units for locating

old stone fences, crumbling chimneys, or old foxholes. Before GPS, the only option for

surveying this type of resources was expensive line-of-sight techniques. The restrictive

nature of this process meant that many resources were not surveyed at all. The ease of

the GPS system means that these resources will not be lost and provide insights for

resource managers planning the preservation of this evidence.74

One of the first projects of the Cultural Resources GIS was at the Fredericksburg-

Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia in 1994-1995. The fortifications were an

important aspect of all battles fought at this site, but none had been surveyed. Lowe

compared historic maps with modern maps and selected sites that corresponded.

Capturing location information of this sites in the field, the historic maps were scanned

and georeferenced, which allows for additional data to be layered over the image.

Utilizing three teams of two surveyors, a GPS inventory of thirty-five miles of trenches

was recorded in only twenty-five days. By incorporating this data into a GIS the park

creates a knowledge base that continually builds upon itself as new research is completed

and entered.75

73
David W. Lowe. “Telling Civil War Battlefield Stories with GIS” in Past Time, Past Place: GIS For
History, ed. Anne K. Knowles, (California, ESRI Press, 2002), 52.
74
ibid.
75
ibid.
51
Building on this experience, GIS and GPS also were used to great success at the

Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia. The National Park Service protects only a

portion of the battleground and was requesting help from the local community to help

preserve resources outside of its boundaries. Lowe again used handheld GPS devices to

record historic locations in the field, which were used to georeference the historic map of

the area. Of particular interest to preservationists, the historic map included footprints of

4,882 houses, barns and other structures. Through experience with the historic map, the

error was estimated to be around forty or fifty yards, which was close enough to put a

surveyor next to a site. Using the GPS receiver, the coordinates from the historic map

were entered and the surveyors used the device to find the resources in the field. As a

result of this approach, two standing antebellum houses were found, a foundation pit

from another was identified, and three modern houses were determined to be on the site

of since-destroyed historic buildings76

These examples show the applicability of GIS and GPS within the historic

preservation survey toolbox. With historic data continuously being added to these

databases, the knowledge base will expand which can only result in more informed and

effective preservation planning.

Risks and Benefits of the GIS approach

While there are apparent advantages to GIS, there are still many issues that need

to be addressed. Necessity should be the first question addressed when considering the

use of GIS in historic research. The goals of a project must be examined to see if they

can not be met more easily with the standard approach. If the key issues of the research

76
Lowe, Past Time, Past Place: GIS For History, 57.
52
are geographic in nature, then GIS may be the best route. For instance, if one were

interested in surveying Cimarron County, Oklahoma, GIS might be a useful tool. A

single district within a city, however, would be too small of an area to require its use. As

the geographic scale of a project increases, the use of a GIS becomes more appropriate.

Time and money are two of the key issues that arise when considering the use of a

GIS methodology. The feature extraction and data modeling (that is, defining on a map

specific areas and representing the data graphically on those areas) can significantly add

to the cost of a project. It is a labor intensive process to enter in the huge quantity of data

that can be gathered from a region, especially if detailed records such as agricultural

records, census records and directories are included. This economical barrier could

prevent smaller agencies from creating a large-scale, comprehensive database. Although

small local projects can still produce valuable information, the larger context may have to

be abbreviated.

A distinct advantage to the GIS approach is that once the data collection and

transformation has been completed the result is a comprehensive, adaptive database

capable of expressing the spatial relationships of past events. This can be used not only

to answer the current research questions, but to answer the questions of future researchers

as well.

The current GIS software, while vastly easier to use than its predecessors, still

requires a certain level of experience to use. This can be a barrier when no one within the

organization has experience or the time to learn. Often an outside firm is called upon to

develop a GIS based upon specific perimeters. While this is a good idea when

53
developing a professional system, the additional cost has to be calculated into the overall

project budget.

After the data has been collected, its application becomes a critical issue. While

the visual analysis that GIS provides is essential, it can also creates illusions. While a

group of variables may visually appear to be correlated, only through spatial and

statistical analysis can these relationships be given credence. The training necessary to

perform these functions is not currently part of the standard curriculum for most historic

preservation programs, which means that data collected will have to be further interpreted

by a specialist (further increasing the cost) or that someone within the project will have to

receive outside training.

Historic maps, although immensely useful in GIS, also present an issue. When a

map is brought into a GIS, it can be used in many different ways. In order to layer other

geographic features over the historic map, the map has to be geo-referenced, meaning it is

made to conform to what is considered to be the “correct” view of the world as defined

by a modern map. Several points on the historic map are corresponded with an accepted

map and are warped to the point where they can be superimposed on top of each other.

The subtle relationships that were considered important to the creator are lost as the map

is distorted through geo-referencing. Due to this distortion the historic map ceases to be a

cultural artifact and it becomes another object. While the altered map does have many

advantages for research, it is important to keep in mind the cultural information that

might have been lost.

One example of this cultural information can be found in Robert Sweeny’s paper

“Understanding boundaries: interdisciplinary lessons from the Montréal l’avenir du

54
passé (MAP) project.” In this paper the relationship of Montreal to the St. Lawrence

River, as evidenced on historic maps, was examined. For 340 years Montreal was seen as

parallel to the river on a west to east axis. While the creators of these maps had an

understanding of the cardinal points, they also saw the relationship of the city in a

different way. Its relationship to the river was more important than its perfect alignment

with north. By geo-referencing the map this subtle piece of cultural information is

gone.77

Reliability is another issue with historic maps. Places physically change over

time for many reasons; i.e. erosion causes changing shore lines. The points that are

chosen as reference points should be something that is least likely to have altered over

time. In large, growing coastal cities the outline can be vastly different due to infill being

used to extend the available building area.

Finally, just as with all research, standards must be in place and followed for the

results to be considered acceptable. One of the key issues with a GIS is that there is no

set system for referencing the data. The metadata (data about data) should contain

references and related information, but how that is to be done has yet to be decided. Just

as if a research paper was submitted with no references, a map with no metadata is nearly

useless. Basically, the same standards for written research need to be applied to spatial

research.

Along this same line, the lack of reliable online storage and referencing needs to

be addressed. Stable, centralized servers need to be created with the specific purpose of

77
Robert C.H. Sweeny. “Understanding boundaries: interdisciplinary lessons from the Montréal l’avenir
du passé (MAP) project”.
Paper presented to “History and Geography: Assessing the Role of Geographical Information in Historical
Scholarship,” Newberry Library, Chicago, March 25-27, 2004.
55
storing data that can be distributed to researchers around the world. Centralizing

information in this way will prevent duplicative work and promote discussion among

researchers.

GIS will prove to be a valuable tool for historic preservation, allowing us to create

comprehensive databases for historic properties. As a planning tool, GIS has been

proven to be very useful in many other diverse fields. Its ability to visually organize a

broad and diverse set of data onto a recognizable geographic representation helps

improve decision making by showing many aspects of an area at once. In the coming

years an emphasis should be placed on incorporating training into our education systems

and developing a set of standards to ensure the reliability of the information.

56
Chapter 3 - Case Studies: Prospect Park, South Hero
and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

Prospect Park Case Study

As part of an ongoing effort by the Burlington Department of Planning and Zoning to

survey the historic buildings within its jurisdiction, the area of Burlington historically

known as “Prospect Park” was surveyed by this researcher during the summer of 2004.

This was the first year that digital tools were used to accomplish the task, relying

previously on traditional paper forms that were entered into a GIS database. This project

was done in conjunction with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, who

supplied the necessary tools and software. The study area was comprised of roughly 215

buildings, many built during the first half of the 20th century in the Colonial Revival

style.

The Tools:

Olympus C-720 digital camera

The Olympus C-720 was chosen for use in this survey due to its balance of economy and

quality. Its features include a ranking of 3 megapixels, maximum recording resolution of

1984x1488, a lens equivalent to 40mm to 320 mm lens on 35 mm camera, and a

comfortable ergonomic design. With a 128 megabyte memory card, the camera could

record approximately 56 images when using the highest quality setting. 78

78
Olympus, “C-720 Basic Manual PDF”, Olympus.com, New York,
http://www.olympususamerica.com/files/C-720UZ_Basic_Manual.pdf
(accessed March 9, 2005)

57
Hewlett-Packard iPAQ Pocket PC with ArcPad software and Gnomon add-on interface

Figure 1. Pocket PC showing survey orthophoto


The Pocket PC was chosen primarily for its ease of use in the field and capability to run

ESRI ArcPad software. The pertinent specifications of this device are a 400 MHz

processor, backlit color display with touch screen capability and 240x320 resolution, and

64 MB SDRAM memory. 79

ArcPad Software:

Developed by ESRI, ArcPad software is designed to provide a GIS system on a mobile

device. This system is used by many professions that need to maintain records of

geographically diverse resources and allows users to bring their digital maps into the

field. For this project orthographic photos were added onto a base map as layers, with

additional layers representing addresses and streets. To input survey data, Gnomon, Inc.,

a custom software development company in Carson City, Nevada, developed an interface

to allow users to create a new file and enter data via drop-down forms and text boxes.

While the exact process that was followed for developing this interface is not known,

79
Hewlett Packard, “Pocket PC users Manual,” hp.com,
http://h200002.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/lpia8007/lpia8007.pdf
(accessed April 7, 2005)
58
ArcPad Application Studio offers the capability to create new toolbars, forms and tools

with a customized interface.80 Custom form information is saved as a shapefile, an ESRI

file type.

“Shapefiles can support point, line, and area features. Area features are represented as
closed loop, double-digitized polygons. Attributes are held in a dBASE® format file.
Each attribute record has a one-to-one relationship with the associated shape
record.”81

Desktop software, custom designed by Gnomon, Inc.

The software that Gnomon developed is essentially a database system with

specific functionality for survey work. Features include the ability (through a GIS type

interface) to create maps of the study areas, add digital pictures to a survey, and import

data from the ArcPad application. The software imports the shapefile created by ArcPad

that includes new survey information, and populates data fields on the desktop database.

The Work:

Work began on the Burlington survey project in August of 2004; initial delays

came from difficulties importing the orthographic tiff files as layers onto the base map.

This is a good example of the learning curve associated with new technology, but in the

future should not be an issue unless a new person is assigned to the task with no

experience. The survey work was accomplished by filling out the digital form on the

PocketPC, and taking digital pictures of the building. Research was accomplished

80
Ty Fitzpatrick, “Using ArcPad Forms to Streamline Data Collection” ArcUser Magazine, July-September
2002, 56-58. via:
http://www.esri.com/news/arcuser/0702/files/arcpad.pdf
(accessed March 10, 2005)
81
ESRI Whitepapers, “ESRI Shapefile Technical Description”, esri.com, California,
http://www.esri.com/library/whitepapers/pdfs/shapefile.pdf
(accessed March 10, 2005)

59
traditionally, via library research, typed up in Microsoft Word, and pasted into the

“significance” field on the desktop software.

Findings

• It was soon discovered that filling out the digital forms was no faster than

using pen and paper. A direct comparison is difficult however, as the

building characteristics are entered using drop-down fields, as opposed to

narratives.

• Glare made use difficult occasionally in particularly sunny areas, but

adjusting position could usually clear this up.

• The ArcPad software would occasionally “forget” some of its layer

information, requiring the user to re-add the image layers.

• Many features common on buildings from the 20th century were not

included as selections on the drop-down menus.

• The digital camera worked well with resolution set to maximum. A larger

memory card than 128 MB would have been useful.

• As the work was done by two workers, the architectural historian

consultant and a graduate student, information needed to be shared

between the two. Constraints include significant physical distance

separating the two, and a dial-up internet connection on one end. Lacking

an export function on the desktop software, the program and information

files had to be copied onto a CD and mailed back and forth between the

workers.

60
Conclusions:

This method of conducting historic site surveys should still be considered a work

in progress since the digital survey methodology presented some problems for this

project, but it holds great promise for the future. As with any new technology the process

should become more efficient in the future as knowledge of the tools becomes more

standard and systems are set in place.

61
South Hero Case Study
Introduction:

During the spring semester of 2004, a team of graduate students of the University

of Vermont Historic Preservation Program were approached to participate in a

multidisciplinary study of Round Pond state park, a parcel of land located in the town of

South Hero in Grand Isle County, VT. (See figure.) Working in conjunction with the

University of Vermont Ecological Planning Program, the goal was to study the historical

and ecological facets of the Round Pond site and prepare a report to aid in decision

making about future management of the park by the Vermont Department of Forests,

Parks, and Recreation.

The historic preservation graduate students broke into separate teams to study different

aspects of local history.

The groups were Town

History, Landon Family

History, Agriculture,

Archaeology,

Transportation and

Tourism.

Figure 2. Portion
of 1871 Beers map.
Courtesy of
University of
Vermont Library
Special Collections.

62
This project utilized three digital tools to aid in research and recording of historic

resource data. OCR, GPS, and GIS each provided a unique service, the details of which

are examined below.

OCR

The Vermont Sites and Structures surveys for Grand Isle County were obtained

from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation in the form of TIFF images stored

on CD. These images then had OCR performed on them using the ABBYY Finereader

program. The output was a single PDF file containing all of the surveys with the text

imbedded beneath the original image. This produced a document that students could text

search to quickly yield relevant information. An example of the usefulness of this

approach is illustrated by a question that arose during research. A trip to the site revealed

a stacked-log fence deep in the woods and flat, twisted barbed-wire fence, both

associated with sheep farming. A text search of the OCR converted site survey for the

word “sheep” had one hit in which it was found in that

“This house was originally a sheep barn for the Landon Farm (.0705-32).
moved in 1913 w/the attached barn.”82

Further researched revealed the historical importance of Merino sheep farming to South

Hero, of which the stacked wood fence was a cultural artifact and thus worthy of

protection.

OCR was also attempted on nineteenth century hand-written agricultural census

records that were recorded on microfilm at the University of Vermont Bailey-Howe

library. Professor Thomas Visser scanned the relevant records and saved them as image

82
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, “Historic Sites and Structures Survey
South Hero - survey 0705-31,” Montpelier: VT, 1980.
63
files. OCR was performed on these images using ABBYY Finereader and following the

same procedure as before. Unfortunately, OCR technology has not progressed to the

point where such handwriting is properly recognized, and the results were unusable.

GPS point plotting

While orthographic photos are preferred for quickly and accurately pin-pointing

historic resources, many areas have not yet been photographed. The digital tool that

would best record location information in this situation is a hand-held global positioning

system. A Garmin brand GPS unit was used for this project. Information was gathered

during multiple trips to the site by means of locating a resource such as the stacked log

fence and collecting a waypoint. For a more in-depth description of what a waypoint is

and how GPS works please see the chapter titled “Examination of Popular Digital Tools”.

For a feature such as a stacked split log fence that has many twists and turns this

is an ideal tool. By taking a waypoint at every twist of the fence, a clear picture of the

layout of the feature on the parcel of land was obtained. Being located deep in thick

woods, this feature would not have been visible from aerial images and traditional land

surveying techniques would have required a significant investment of time.

The waypoints were downloaded from the handheld device and imported into the

ESRI ArcView GIS software, where they were used to create polygons representing

cultural landscape features.

64
GIS mapping

The GIS mapping was preformed by the UVM Ecological Planning Program as

they had the necessary software and hardware as well as access to an individual who was

knowledgeable of GIS. In addition to the cultural features that were collected as

waypoints and entered as polygons, the environmental resources of the land were

recorded as well. GIS has long been a popular tool for mapping environmental features,

and due to its ability to layer spatial information is works well as a tool to bridge multiple

fields of study. As an example, the GIS map produced from this study is able to

selectively display environmental and cultural data, either separately or simultaneously.

The benefit of this is that previously unconsidered connections may be revealed as a

researcher compares various layers of information.

Figure 3.
Cultural
features on
Round
Pond83

83
William Abbott et al, “Round Pond State Park” (Planning document prepared for the Vermont Agency of
Natural Resources by LIA consultants, University of Vermont, 2004).
65
Conclusion:

The use of digital technology provided distinct advantages during the course of

the study. By converting survey forms into a text searchable database, hours of reading

and research could be culled into a few minutes. Cultural features on the land that would

have required extensive measurement and survey work were recorded by a small team of

students in a relatively short time. Data was expressed visually as opposed to text, which

has the potential for ease of comprehension and comparison.

This does not mean that there are no tradeoffs in this approach. Accuracy is the

prime concern when switching to certain digital systems. Text created through the OCR

process may not be perfect, and if the original document was in poor condition or not

scanned properly the loss of data could be substantial. Another example of an accuracy

issue is that the GPS unit is not adequate in circumstances where measurements need to

be within a few feet or inches. 84

GIS however, can prove to be more accurate when determining location. The

most common analog method for determining location of a resource such as a historic

building is a USGS at 1:24,000 scale (7.5 minute maps), in which 1 inch = 2000 feet.85 A

digital orthophoto has similar accuracy, but the real value is the precision with which the

user can select a resource.

84
The specifications for a new Garmin GPS unit, the GPSMAP 60CS, lists accuracy of <15 meters (49.2
feet) for a GPS signal and <3 meters (9.8 feet) for a WAAS signal.
Garmin, “GPSMAP 60CS Specifications”, garmin.com, Kansas,
http://www.garmin.com/products/gpsmap60cs/spec.html
(accessed March 7, 2005)
85
United States Geological Survey, “USGS Maps”, http://erg.usgs.gov, Colorado,
http://erg.usgs.gov/isb/pubs/booklets/usgsmaps/usgsmaps.html#Topographic%20Maps
(accessed March 7, 2005)
66
The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation Case Study

One of the principal questions of the 2004 survey on the use of digital tools that

was distributed to state historic preservation offices around the country revolved around

how they were dealing with their existing survey information that was typed and stored in

file cabinets. The responses clearly show that many organizations have realized the

importance of bringing this information over into digital files. There are many

advantages to this approach, digital files can be transferred easily, stored on a small disk

or drive, and can potentially provide a much easier system for carrying out research.

There are some problems to consider however, and this portion of the thesis will discuss a

variety of issues associated with digital conversion. Finally, a data conversion system

that was developed for the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation will be presented

and thoroughly explained.

It is important to note here that the system that was developed is not some new

thing requiring a technical wizard to design or implement and that is precisely the point.

Developments in technology are supposed to make solutions such as this more accessible

to those of us not deeply immersed in the digital culture. The primary goal while

developing this technique was to show not a specific process, but a general thought

process. Many digital tools are currently available. It is not necessary to wait for a

company to develop a tool specifically for your situation. Creativity and familiarity with

basic concepts can allow anyone to adapt the tools that exist to solve many difficult

problems.

67
A secondary goal during development was to keep it cheap. Very few

organizations have unlimited funds for development and this is important to keep in mind

when approaching a project centered on technology. The issue of data conversion can be

solved very easily by simply looking online and selecting one of the many companies that

provide exactly this service. Storing data can be done very nicely using advanced

database software running on massive servers; however this is not the best solution for

many preservation offices. Hopefully the flow chart presented at the conclusion of this

section will be encouraging to the smaller organizations who wish to digitize some of

their resources but fear stepping into an expensive trap.

Current Situation:

The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation has implemented a GIS database

system and is using digital survey tools for all new surveys. To make their paper records

more accessible, they contracted to have all of their documents scanned and saved as

images. The treatment they selected scanned the files at 2544x3300 with 300 dpi

horizontal and vertical resolution. The survey forms were then saved as linked TIFF files

copied onto CDs, and made available to interested parties. While this approach

eliminates the need for a researcher to travel to the archives, the files themselves are still

no easier to research with than their paper sources.

Many other organizations have faced similar problems, and the results of the

SHPO survey indicate the variety of possible solutions. What follows is an approach to

the problem with economy and ease of use as primary considerations. With this in mind

it was determined that the best solution would be to create a database of searchable PDF

68
files. This solution will utilize the work of scanning the images that has already been

completed, and reduce human interaction to a minimum.

The Tradeoff:

To ensure high accuracy when converting a paper document into a digital file it is

necessary to have a human manually type the information into a database. A more

efficient option is to perform OCR on an image obtained by scanning the document, and

then have someone correct the errors. Both of these options require someone to spend

hours entering and correcting text; an expensive proposition.

It is important to keep in mind that the digital copies are not taking the place of

the paper archives. Digital files are created as an efficient alternative to their paper

counterparts, but using them as an archival method is not advisable. With that known it

is possible to consider more of a trade-off between accuracy and efficiency.

The process proposed will use a consumer grade OCR program to create text from

the images that, well not perfect, has proven to be quite adequate for research purposes.

Combining this text with the original image further improves the functionality of this

approach. The PDF format was chosen because it was determined to maintain the

information better than any other choice, and was popular enough to ensure its survival

for the foreseeable future.

Methodology:

The scanned images of the historic sites and structures surveys prepared for the

Vermont Division for Historic Preservation were saved to CD along with a viewing

program and organized by geographic location. The viewing program has a function that

allows the user to export the files in TIFF format. These files export as a series of linked

69
TIFF, keeping the multiple images of a survey together. The files were exported into a

single folder.

Table 4. Example of scanned survey TIFF

70
After testing of three OCR programs, ABBYY FineReader 7.0 was selected for this

project. (Please see appendix for test results) All of the images were opened

simultaneously with the “Open Image” function.

Figure 4. South Hero TIFF files in ABBYY


Although there are only 115 files, these are files consisting of linked TIFF so each

contains multiple pages. In total ABBYY opened 962 images over a span of

approximately five minutes. The recognition, however, is a much more time intensive

process.

Using the default settings, select “Read All”. ABBYY began analyzing the

documents and interpreting the text. At an average of 15 seconds per page, the program

71
took roughly 4 hours to complete the task. What is significant is that no one was required

to give any input during this time. Once the program is running the employee can go on

to another task and waste no more time on this process than it takes to click a button. It is

recommended that this task be done on a spare computer due to the heavy memory

demands of this program.

Once completed the files are ready to be saved. Note that there is a “Check

Spelling” option with ABBYY. If greater accuracy is desired an individual can go

through the text and correct errors. Select “Save” and on the new window “Format

Options”.

Figure 5. Save window Figure 6. Formats Settings window

On the PDF tab, make sure that “Text under the page image” is selected, and click ok.

This will ensure that the original image is seen, and not the recognized text.

You will now be back at the Save window. Select “Save to file”.

72
This will bring up the final window “Save text as”. On the “File options” drop-down

menu be sure to select “Name files as source images”. This will save each of the linked

Figure 7. Survey PDF


TIFF files as a PDF,

rather than one

continuous document.

You will now have a

folder with multiple PDF

documents. Make sure

that the files are saved to

folders that are well

labeled to prevent filing

mistakes. These PDF

files can be attached individually to an existing database, or used together as a separate

research tool. Multiple options exist for creating a PDF database, from access over the

internet to an individual desktop solution.

Adobe Acrobat was used to create a standalone database for this project due to its

popularity and the likelihood that it is already owned by many organizations, thus saving

the cost of additional purchases. A feature on Adobe Acrobat 7.0 allows the user to

create a catalog of PDF files which are text searchable. A catalog could be created for

73
each CD of images to retain their geographical context, or one large catalog containing

everything for a holistic text search.

Creating a catalog in Acrobat is fast and simple. Open

the Acrobat program and select “Advanced”, then

“Catalog”.

This opens the catalog window. Follow the instructions

on-screen to create a new index.

Figure 8. Adobe Catalog


feature

Selecting “New index”

brings up a window that

Figure 9. Adobe Catalog window prompts you to enter a

74
name for the catalog you are creating and a source folder where the PDF files are

currently located (“Include these directories” - “add”).

Figure 10. Adobe Catalog index creation


It would be best to include a detailed account of the catalog being created in the

“Index Description” field. This allows others who may not be familiar with the system to

quickly understand the contents. When finished select “Build”. Adobe will ask where

the catalog file should be saved and then index all of the PDF files within the selected

folder.

The result is a single file that opens a search function within acrobat. The user

can search all of the indexed documents for text, a process that could take days when

reading through paper documents.

75
Figure 11. Adobe Catalog search
The image above shows the search function in action. A search for the text

“hero” in the catalog found 541 instances in 100 documents. Each instance is linked

below in the “Results” frame. Clicking on one of the links brings up the page where the

text was found, with the word highlighted.

Conclusion:

Although not as dynamic as a full database system, this OCR to PDF conversion

approach yielded a system that can significantly aid historic research with little

investment of time or money. After discussion with Nancy Boone and Eric Ingbar of the

Vermont Division, three options were identified to bring this new data into the current

GIS database.

1. Create “masks” in the OCR program that will assign categories to identified

portions of the image. For instance, when converting forms with identical
76
layouts, the survey address should always be in roughly the same area. By

telling the program that all text within this identified region should be called

“address” it should be a simple process to extrapolate this data from the OCR

document into the “address” field of another database automatically

2. This database could be left as a separate database, linked to the primary

database through a joint query function. This has the benefit of requiring a

minimum of additional work, but does not create any visual relationships in

GIS

3. A program could be coded to parse select text from the file, which would be

used as identifiers for inserting the survey. For instance, the UTM coordinates

could be extracted from the text, and the file name changed to those

coordinates. These files could then be inserted in their current PDF format

directly into the GIS database. This would be the most effective treatment, as

survey forms are not useful solely as text-search databases, but in relation to

their environment, which is what GIS achieves.

As a result of this case study the following flow charts were developed. These

charts are designed to guide an organization that is currently addressing the issue of paper

document conversion. By following this guide, or developing one customized to the

institution, fully informed and logical decisions can be made. By applying this organized

method for decision making to other aspects of digital conversion the hope is that

organizations can better plan projects for access and long-term maintenance.

77
78
79
Chapter 4 - Implications
Digital tools are being developed and implemented by the majority of state

historic preservation offices, and it can only be assumed that this will continue for the

foreseeable future. What then, does this mean for the future of historic resource surveys?

One of the key aspects of digital data in the context of historic resource surveys is that the

job of implementation and adaptation will never be finished. There is no single plan that

can be implemented and forgotten about, expected to forever maintain data. Digital data

changes rapidly as new and better hardware and software are created to better record and

manage information. Data will need to be constantly managed to ensure its continued life

and accessibility. Realization of this continuous responsibility will be the key to creating

a truly sustainable digital survey system.

After reading this thesis it should be apparent that going digital is not an all-

encompassing solution to all survey problems. Remember that the primary benefit of

creating digital files is that it will allow information to be dissipated further and more

efficiently than it could before. Digital files are not archival, nor will they be a cheaper

alternative, especially not in the short term. Keep in mind the short life cycle of most

digital technologies, and that they will need to be replaced periodically.86

What follows are recommendations for how to move forward with the

implementation of digital tools. These are drawn from other programs, such as library

digitization initiatives, that are undergoing a similar methodological evolution. It is

important to look to organizations that have similar data management goals, as they may

86
Hughes, Digitizing Collections, 6.
80
have already implemented a system that could easily be adapted to meet SHPO goals.

Many of these organizations may be willing to collaborate on some aspects of

digitization, combining data for example, which will make resource databases all the

more powerful. A nationwide system for learning and sharing information about

successes and failures will be an invaluable resource for future development.

An initial proposal is that an annual national conference would provide a platform

for SHPOs to discuss issues of digitization. An interim method to encourage discussion

would be the creation of an online forum; essentially an interactive website that allows

users to post questions and replies, which are viewable to registered users and guests.

The University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program has created such a forum,

which is linked at: (http://www.uvm.edu/histpres/HPJ/). Everyone who is interested in

this topic should feel free to join the forum and participate. Through this discussion of

issues, such as standards for digital images and emerging technologies, a better-informed

network of SHPOs will emerge.

A second proposal is to carefully plan the digitization system before

implementing any element of it. Planning the digitization system is vital to create a

methodology that will be sustainable. One of the first topics to consider when planning a

system is the standards the data will be held to. The concept of digital benchmarking is

discussed in Moving Theory Into Practice in the context of digital image management for

cultural institutions such as libraries, but is very applicable here. The core idea is to

develop a benchmark for requirements, so that good decisions can be made when

developing budgets, developing programs, and planning for the future. In Moving Theory

81
into Practice, the key features of the approach are defined by Kenney (with alterations to

meet digital survey considerations in brackets) as:

Requirements definition:

Assess your collection and identify variables in cost, quality and

performance. 87 (This will provide specifications, such as how accurate

OCR results need to be or what resolution new digital images need to be

recorded at.)

Measurement:

Gather good data, characterize your material objectively, and determine the

interrelationship of variables to desired outcomes. 88 (Set standards for

survey information and ensure that new digital work records historic

resources accurately and comprehensively.)

Tolerance values:

Determine how much variance you’ll tolerate, as your specifications may

not be achievable in a production environment or under all circumstances.

For instance, you might allow a vendor to reduce resolution at a certain file

size or ensure accuracy of color values within a certain numeric range. 89

87
Kenney, Moving Theory Into Practice, 24, 25.
88
ibid.
89
ibid.
82
Verification:

Approve or modify your benchmarks through carefully structured testing

and evaluation.90

Developing standards ensures that considerations and issues are addressed early in the

process, instead of after work has started. Luckily there are many similar initiatives that

have already been undertaken, so the first step for an organization beginning to use the

technologies discussed here would be to become acquainted with existing knowledge.

Programs such as the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH),

who has published a “Guide to Good Practice in the Digital Representation and

Management of Cultural Heritage Materials” and the Library of Congress National

Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program are good sources for the

latest standards and procedures.

A third proposal is to implement more institutional education in the field of digital

technology. A nationwide discussion of specifications will be of little use if only a few

people in an office understand the issues. Therefore, both at the SHPO level and at the

education institution it will be necessary to implement training in a variety of digital

tools, from cameras to database applications. According to Trevor Jones, project

coordinator of the Illinois Digitization Institute:

“Digital projects require new skills. Project planning should allow time to teach
current staff new technologies. Even if an outside vendor completes a project, or
new staff is hired specifically to work on a digital project, permanent staff should
at least learn the basic theories and practices of digitization. Institutions often hire
short-term staff for digitization projects which can result in the loss of digital
expertise when the project ends.”91

90
Kenney, Moving Theory Into Practice, 24, 25.
91
Trevor Jones, “An Introduction to Digital Projects for Libraries, Museums and Archives”, Illinois
Digitization Institute, Illinois,
83
Training programs for staff should be included in any digitization plan, and updated as

new developments occur.

Finally, here are proposals for future research in the field of digital survey

methodologies. Further work needs to be done to create a smooth conversion

methodology for bringing converted paper files into synchronization with larger database

systems. This will be tailored to the needs of individual offices, and each should define

their needs to determine how to organize their data.

Advances need to be made in digital survey methods that make it easier to use, so

that the user does not alter their data to match what is expected by the program. For

example, by solely using drop-down fields for field data gathering the user will want to

put what they are seeing into one of the available categories. The goal of a digital survey

should be to capture the free expression of historic characteristics more efficiently, but

not to have an impact on what data is collected.

Digital technology has been adopted nationwide as a practical addition to

traditional survey methodologies. This has created a new job within historic

preservation, that of digital information manager. This job will require persons who are

willing to continuously educate themselves on new technologies and standards, are able

to incorporate traditional files into new database systems, and educate those around them.

The benefit of all of this work will be the creation of flexible and dynamic systems that

connect preservationists across the country, and hopefully around the globe. With careful

http://images.library.uiuc.edu/resources/introduction.htm
(accessed March 14, 2005)
84
planning and implementation, digital tools can be used to usher in a higher level of

scholarship, uninhibited by distance or economy.

85
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90
APPENDIX

Test results of three OCR programs

The following pages detail the test results of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 OCR, Abbyy

FineReader 7.0, and ReadIris Pro 10.0. The test consisted of performing OCR on one

survey form with five pages. Three of the pages consisted of typed survey data, one of

the pages was a large image, and two were scanned historical pamphlets. Each program

output the results in PDF, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel formats, except for

Adobe Acrobat, which was only output in PDF.

The output was then compared against the original image by counting each word

completely recognized, each word partially recognized, and each word missed

completely. Whether or not the original layout of the image was maintained with images

was noted, and the document was searched for a set of key words. The key words

remained static, except for the “partial word” search. In that instance a word that was

only partially recognized was selected; this was done to determine is the program would

find the word with a portion missing.

The best performer was Abbyy Finereader, missing only 23 words out of 1144

and even recognizing most of the brochure, which was of a lower scan quality. Abbyy

was also easy to operate and required little configuration.

91
Adobe Output: PDF On Board OCR – default settings
Acrobat 7.0

Layout was maintained

Words completely recognized / Partial recognition / Words missed

Page 1 229 / 12 / 130


Page 2 269 / 0 / 46
Page 3 (image)
Page 4 19 / 0 / 0
Page 5 46 / 1 / 80
(pamphlet)
Page 6 0 / 0 / 313
(pamphlet)

Searching Results

“0705-1” 2 instances found


“Hamlin” 2 instances found
“Phelps” 3 instances found
“Vernacular 1 instance found
Italianate”
“1951” 1 instance found
“Sand Bar” 5 instances found
Partially Not found
recognized
word
“Interesting”

Comments
The Adobe OCR picks up a lot of random image imperfections and tries to convert them

92
Abbyy Output: PDF On Board OCR – default settings
Finereader 7.0 Text over page image – jpeg quality = 600

Layout was maintained

Words completely recognized / Partial recognition / Words missed

Page 1 365 / 5 / 0
Page 2 314 / 0 / 1
Page 3 (image)
Page 4 19 / 0 / 0
Page 5 115 / 5 / 7
(pamphlet)
Page 6 308 / 4 / 1
(pamphlet)

Searching Results

“0705-1” 2 instances found


“Hamlin” 2 instances found
“Phelps” 3 instances found
“Vernacular 1 instance found
Italianate”
“1951” 1 instance found
“Sand Bar” 10 instances found
Partially Not found
recognized
word
“Interesting”

Comments
The lighter portion at the bottom of page one was unintelligible. The check boxes were
not recognized in a uniform manner, making that data useless without the accompanying
image.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Change the setting to “text under page image” and, while the text
recognition quality remains the same, the original scanned image is “over” the text. This
fixes the check box problem, and any other partially recognized or missed characters.

93
Abbyy Output: Picture resolution = 600
Finereader 7.0 Microsoft Word Jpeg quality = 90 and “retain images”

Layout was maintained

Words completely recognized / Partial recognition / Words missed

Page separations were not maintained, converted images became one large document.
The following figure represents the overall document recognition.

866 / 25 / 254

Searching Results

“0705-1” 2 instances found


“Hamlin” 2 instances found
“Phelps” 3 instances found
“Vernacular 1 instance found
Italianate”
“1951” 1 instance found
“Sand Bar” 9 instances found
Partially Not found
recognized word
“Negative”

Comments
Checkboxes are only partially recognized, making that portion of the form unusable.
Good maintenance of images and layout.

94
Abbyy Output: Default settings
Finereader 7.0 Microsoft Excel

Layout was not maintained

Words completely recognized / Partial recognition / Words missed

Page separations were not maintained, converted images became one large document.
The following figure represents the overall document recognition.

1006 / 29 / 110

Searching Results

“0705-1” 2 instances found


“Hamlin” 2 instances found
“Phelps” 3 instances found
“Vernacular 1 instance found
Italianate”
“1951” 1 instance found
“Sand Bar” 10 instances found
Partially Not found
recognized word
“Negative”

Comments
Data maintains its context despite the loss of original layout; however images are lost or
destroyed. Check boxes are not uniformly recognized.

95
Readiris Pro Output: PDF Image + text
10.0

Layout was maintained

Words completely recognized / Partial recognition / Words missed

Page 1 176 / 195 / 0


Page 2 315 / 0 / 0
Page 3 (image)
Page 4 17 / 2 / 0
Page 5 0 / 0 / 127
(pamphlet)
Page 6 119 / 5 / 189
(pamphlet)

Searching Results

“0705-1” 2 instances found


“Hamlin” 2 instances found
“Phelps” 2 instances found
“Vernacular Only vernacular found
Italianate”
“1951” 1 instance found
“Sand Bar” 5 instances found
Partially 1 instance found
recognized
word
“Restricted”

Comments
No words were completely missed until the pages with the scanned pamphlet, where
Readiris performed much worse.

Readiris Pro Output: Microsoft Default settings


10.0 Word 2003
Layout was not maintained

Comments
Unable to analyze the results, 312 pages of random letters/numbers. Useless.

96
Readiris Pro Output: Default settings
10.0 Microsoft
Excel

Layout was not maintained

Words completely recognized / Partial recognition / Words missed

Page separations were not maintained, converted images became one large document.
The following figure represents the overall document recognition.

664 / 26 / 455

Searching Results

“0705-1” 1 instance found


“Hamlin” 2 instances found
“Phelps” 2 instances found
“Vernacular Only vernacular found
Italianate”
“1951” 1 instance found
“Sand Bar” 4 instances found
Partially Not found
recognized
word “Survey”

Comments
Images are destroyed or lost. Loss of layout context makes the information difficult to
understand.

97
NCSHPO Survey Responses

1) Please select from the list below techniques that are currently
being used in your historic surveys

Black and
White Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using B&W total
Photography
photography
25 24 96%

Digital
Photography Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
25 20 80%

Geographic
Information Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
Systems (GIS)
25 21 84%

Paper
Checklist or Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
Fill in the
Blank Forms
25 21 84%

Personal Data
Assistant Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
(PDA)
25 3 12%

Notebook
Computers Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
25 8 32%

98
Computer
Assisted Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
Drawing
(CAD) or
Measured
Drawings
25 3 12%

Additional
Techniques? Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
25 11 44%

2) What methods have been employed to convert paper records into a


digital format?

Manual entry
into a word Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
processor or
database
program
25 22 88%

Optical
Character Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
Recognition
(OCR)
software
25 3 12%

OCR programs used Scanner brand and model

Contracted out N/A


Ascent Capture 5.5 Fujitsu 4750c
Text Bridge Epson Perfection 636

99
Scanning the
paper Total Respondents Percentage of
Responses using total
document and
saving it as an
image
25 10 40%

No method has
been selected Total Respondents Percentage of
yet, but it is on Responses using total
the schedule
for the future
25 1 4%

Additional Methods?
Electronic inventory form application for the collection of inventory data. Data is
entered and the forms are generated using Crystal Reports

Microfilm the digital files for long-term archival storage

Scanning photographs

100
3) What architectural site features are recorded?

Positive response Percentage of total

Landscape 14 56%
Materials 20 80%
Foundation 18 72%
Stylistic details 19 76%
Physical condition 17 68%
Wall structure 14 56%
Wall covering 17 68%
Roof Structure 12 48%
Roof Covering 17 68%
Roof style 19 76%
# of stories 18 72%
Entrance location 9 36%
# of bays 10 40%
Approximate dimensions 11 44%
Appendages 16 64%
Statement of Significance 20 80%
Historic themes 18 72%
Auxiliary buildings 22 88%
Narrative 19 76%
Other features 11 44%

101
Additional Architectural Features Date of construction
that are being recorded but were not
available on the survey Architect

Location information

Ownership information

Significant persons or
events

NR criteria information

Cultural Resource
Management (CRM) Events

Additional sections for


cemetery and bridge
resources.

Date demolished

Resource type (ie. house,


barn, lighthouse, etc)

National or local
register status

Current Use/Historic Use

Architectural Forms

Historical designations

Historic integrity

UTM Coord. and/or legal


description

Threats to property

Principal porch integrity


and type

Chimney configuration and


materials

Window type and


materials.

Rating (in-house)

102