Digital Harrisburg Team-Rachel

Hello, I’m Rachel. I am a Public History major with a Politics minor and I have been working on this awesome project for just over a year now.

A glance at some of the precincts at the Southern end of the map.

For the most part, I have been working on a map of 1901 Harrisburg with ArcGIS, a geographic information system. The team uses this system for creating and utilizing a digitized map of Harrisburg from over a century ago. We also compile geographic data and more with the goal of sharing our work with the public. Different sections of the map are split into wards, and then into precincts, as one can see in the picture shown to the left.

On the maps, Sarah and I trace polygons to outline the different buildings across Harrisburg. Then, in an Excel-like attributes table, I fill in information associated with each polygon. A few of the boxes are automatically filled out, but ward, category (residence, annex, or business building), HID (address), PropOwner (person whose name is written on the map for that place), and material (frame/wood for yellow-colored places, brick for pink-colored structures, and stone for the rare brown edifices) are all filled in manually. I get all this information from the handwritten notes on the digitized map, and I have done this for 6,288 polygons. The picture to the side is an example of an attribute table in progress.

This picture includes several rows of many from my attribute table for the 1901 Harrisburg map.

Most likely, it will take me a couple more weeks to finish filling in the attributes table. I only have to finish the property owner column, and then I will be able to move onto other parts of the project like Sarah has done. For example, I will learn more about working with censuses and how to tie that to the work the team has already done. This task will take careful attention and plenty of time to analyze and refine, but I am definitely excited to get to know the homeowners I have seen on a more specific level from the census information.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope you revisit this blog to see the Digital Harrisburg team’s future posts.

To view some of our previous posts, like #ThrowbackThursdays based off of century-old newspapers, click here or here.




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