Cities and towns in Massachusetts with most or all of their historical property survey information online, as reported by them

in response to a post to the MassHistPres list on 5-25-08 Responses as of 5-30-08: Marlborough Historical narrative: Detailed information by street and area: Background information on the process to convert the five notebooks of printed information into PDFs posted online:

Hingham Sherborn Background on Sherborn from Ed Perry:

The 1981 Survey data was a Xerox copy of the original hand typed survey data that is in the Sherborn Library. This was contained in four 3" three ring binders with each page stored in a clear acetate folder for protection. This was scanned using a Visioneer OneTouch model 7000 flatbed scanner and converted to digital text using OCR software included with the scanner. The error rate in the OCR process was substantial and required extensive manual correction of errors in the digitized text. The 1999 Survey Update data was on a Zip disk in microsoft Access 2000 database form and, since I did not have the Access database software, required manual cut and paste of data into a form that could be html coded. Initially the coding was manual, following html 2 rules. Later I acquired FrontPage 2000 which was subsequetly upgraded to FrontPage 2003. These applications greatly facilitated the coding process. In addition to the OCR errors a large number of errors were also found in the original material, ranging from typos, spelling and gramatical errors to factual data errors, some substantial. Also, additional new information is found from timr to time. A decision was made early in the process to combine the 1981 and 1999 updates into a single file for each property, correcting all errors, and incorporating all new data.

The task was started in early 2002. A "skeleton" website was created on an AOL account for the Historical Commission and was in usable form sometine in 2003. Due to the AOL limitation of 2 Mbytes per account, the ability to display photos and other images was severely limited. Transition to the existing Comcast account was accomplished in late 2005 or early 2006. Comcast at that time provided 25 Mbytes per account which greatly relieved the constraints of the AOL limitation. Comcast has recently expanded the website memory allocation to 1 Gbyte (a 40x increase!!) permitting a great increase in the amount of image data that can be added to the website. I have recently added some Google Earth images to the site and some aerial "birdseye" photos to the site. The birdseye images are from microsoft and and are sometimes a nice supplement to the other photos in the website. The Sherborn Library has digitized a number of historical documents that are used as references in the survey data. These include an 1830 history, an 1856 history, and the 1974 tercentennial history and guide. I plan to incorporate links to these documents from the survey website at some time in the near future. Regards - Ed Perry

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