Pinpointing Preservation

Historic sites in Georgia are just a click away with a geographic information system Web site developed and maintained by UGA


Looking for a historic home or a Civil War battleground? Now you can find it from home with the help of a geographic information system network developed by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

The natural archaeological and historic resources geographic information system (NAHRGIS), launched earlier this year, is an interactive Web-based registry cataloging information about the natural, archaeological and historic resources of Georgia.

“You only need two things to access the system: the Internet and a relatively high-speed connection,” says Rowe Bowen, section chief for cultural resources at the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Historic preservation graduate student Chris Daniel takes notes from a tombstone in the cemetery at Harmony Hall Baptist Church in Hall County.

The program, which was originally generated by the DOT to help with their research, turned into a public service with the help of Internet technology experts at the Institute of Government. The project was paid for with federal DOT grants.

Visitors to the site are able to search from a database of 80,000 historic structures. State government officials, who need more detail in their work, also have access to archaeological sites.

“Let’s say you wanted to know where all the historic cemeteries were in your home county; you could get on NAHRGIS to find out,” says Melissa Roberts, coordinator of Findit, an organization within the College of Environment and Design that has been identifying locations to include on the Web site. “There are lots of cemetery buffs out there who will thoroughly enjoy the site. And, if you’re more inclined to search for historic houses, it’s very easy to locate the oldest site in a county.”

Users also may access the site for help in tracking genealogy and applying for historic preservation grants, says Eric McRae, associate director of Internet Technology Outreach Services at the Institute of Government.

Students working with Findit have spent eight years surveying property in Georgia counties, compiling data on as many as 600 buildings and places, including bridges, schoolhouses and land. The “living system,” as Bowen calls it, can be constantly updated. In fact, nearly 100 edits a day are made to the site.

“The most accurate information is always available because of the Web-based editing capabilities,” Bowen says.

“After working with this project for over 10 years, it has become very special to me. If we get the word out and people take advantage of it, I will be very pleased… It is information the everyday person doesn’t usually get to see.”


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Go to the NAHRGIS Web site at

About the Author

Lesley Onstott is a senior journalism major and former editorial assistant for Georgia Magazine.