MDAH Introduces New Database of Historic Resources in State

Every now and then, MissPres will come across a news story that needs its own post instead of getting folded into the regular roundup.  While working on yesterday’s, I came across such an announcement on the MDAH Website.  Below is the text of the press release about the website (I added images from screen shots I took while exploring the site).

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contains images of buildings across Mississippi, plus information such as drawings, newspaper clippings, and other historical documents related to the structures.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the Historic Resources Database here.

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Just so you know, the site is addicting to explore – and it’ll probably make our fearless leader (whom I’m sure will add this resource to the list of links) rethink how MissPres does the “Name This Place” contest.

There’s lots of information free to the public, but the main page includes a link to “Subscriber Services” which gives more information about what you can get for your subscription (and includes a link to provide MDAH with information indicating your interest).

Both Subscriber levels include everything that is available on the public interface, but add the following:

Level 1:

  • Access to locational information for rural standing structures
  • Access to all National Register Nomination, including NR archaeological sites
  • Access to reports and other cross reference material when available
  • Search capacity in [MDAH’s] large and growing photographic library
  • Ability to submit new images about properties to MDAH
  • Ability to submit new standing structures to MDAH to be considered for inclusion into the database

Level 2 (which is for qualified archaeologists only) includes the Level 1 features and adds:

  • Access to the archaeological site database
  • Access to archaeological survey reports databases, PDF scan of the archaeological reports
  • Ability to submit new site cards
  • Access to the archaeological site photo collection

Enjoy exploring the site!



Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Historic Preservation, Mississippi Landmarks, Mississippi Towns, MS Dept. of Archives and History, National Register, Preservation Education, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Preservation People/Events

6 replies

  1. This question relates to Kuhn Memorial State Hospital. In the basement there were logs of patients admitted, with dates of diagnosis and discharge or death. These were HUGE heavy books. I am sure they were removed and saved somewhere when the building was vacated. Where would they be now? How would I find them? They were fascinating to read. I worked there. 1980-1983.

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  2. I have already been exploring the site, and this is incredible. Three things I needed this morning, at the click of a mouse! Thanks, J.R.!

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  3. Quite an amazing resource!

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  4. The database has become an invaluable tool for us at MDAH and is updated daily, if not hourly, with new records and new information and photos for existing records. We hope y’all will find it as useful as we do! The database is built on our large paper file system of historic buildings that has been growing for forty years, and it is meant to supplement rather than replace those paper files. So if you’re looking for more detailed research on a building, you might want to come to our offices in Jackson, right next to the Old Capitol, and see what’s in the file itself.

    Do bear with us as we work through the map location information, as that is the newest part of the database, and the one we will need to spend alot of time on moving dots to exactly the right location.

    If you do happen to come across a mistake in the database, please let us know so we can check into it. You can e-mail me at jbaughn@mdah.state.ms.us.

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  5. This is so cool! I cannot wait to subscribe. Thanks for sharing this info!

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