Wisconsin Geospatial News

Historical Info. Mapped Online

In the midst of efforts to continue, expand, and preserve their collections with ever-shrinking resources, the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) recently launched the Wisconsin Archaeological and Historical Resources Database (WisAHRD) website. This new resource is a restricted-access catalog and map application for accessing certain inventories maintained by the Society.

WisAHRD is the product of work over the last two years to update database software, to automate access to these information through an online interface, and to integrate GIS capabilities. The result is a streamlined, password-protected, online system for searching, reviewing, and mapping archaeological and historical information for everything from compliance checking to planning and research studies.

Site inventories and reports with maps

The WisAHRD application combines the contents of three publicly accessible collections: the Archaeological Sites Inventory (ASI), the Architecture and History Inventory (AHI), and the Bibliography of Archaeological Reports (BAR). Users can perform a simple or advanced search, view maps and/or printable forms of specific site records, and in some cases, perform data entry remotely.

The Archaeological Sites Inventory is a restricted-access database encoding approximately 32,000 sites from around the state. The database covers archaeological sites, burial mounds, cemeteries, and cultural sites. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, these sites are mapped to the nearest quarter section when viewing their location.

The Architecture and History Inventory (AHI) database covers nearly 150,000 properties. These site records were previously available through Historibase and the WHS website. AHI sites have now been geocoded so users can pinpoint located properties on a map.

Finally, WHS incorporated the Bibliography of Archaeological Reports (BAR) with about 8,000 reports inventoried. Report records link to digitized survey areas which also show ASI and AHI points.

Public Terminal and remote access

Access to any of these resources is available through a public terminal in the Historical Society. Users can call in to reserve a time and must sign a user agreement. In addition, users who access this type of information routinely can purchase an annual subscription for online access to WisAHRD. Subscriptions are likely necessary to maintain resources required to administer and monitor license agreements on this sensitive information and to support the underlying technology.

Future directions

Planned enhancements to the WisAHRD system include linking of digital photographic images and site sketches to the existing inventories as well as integrating WHS’ shipwreck database along with geographic locations for mapping.