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1.  National Register Mapping

Posted 11-01-2017 12:45
To those who do National Register nominations, what software or program do you use to generate maps? Is it easy for a non-architect to use and is it Mac compatible? And is it affordable for a one-person firm to purchase? Thank you for any suggestions. 

Danielle Bachant-Bell
Lord and Bach Heritage Preservation Consulting
605 W. Allen St.
Bloomington, IN 47403

2.  RE: National Register Mapping

Posted 11-02-2017 09:11
Apart from districts, I've always just used a simple image editor ( to draw on the tax map, or Acrobat Pro to draw a box on the topo map. However, I've only worked in Oregon and Washington. Both states have gone fully digital and don't require a paper topo anymore.

For my last district, the area was so unaltered from the 1950s Sanborn map that I just made corrections by hand to a copy of the Sanborn and then scanned it.

Timothy Askin
Milwaukee, WI

3.  RE: National Register Mapping

Posted 11-03-2017 08:38

What I think makes matters even worse is that SHPO's apply their own standards somewhat randomly.

For example, a SHPO's NRHP directions may state that maps must have "a scale" and so forth. This kind of map can me made using Google Earth, I think, but it's not a thing I have mastered.

When I review a previous (and fairly recent) nomination from that state, it often has maps that don't seem to conform to those requirements - but they apparently made it through!

If mapping is this hard for those of us with some training and professional expertise (even if we're not experts at creating maps/GIS issues), I can't imagine how incredibly frustrating and off-putting the process is for Joe and Sally who want to put their own house or small business on the NRHP.  

Patrick Thompson
Germantown MD


4.  RE: National Register Mapping

Posted 11-03-2017 09:52
Google Maps or Bing Maps are both acceptable for generating the required NRHP nomination maps. Google Earth allows the drawing of boundaries and arrows, which is helpful. Otherwise, any photo editing software you have can be used for the drawing of boundaries, north arrows, and arrows pointing to the resource in broad-context maps. Microsoft Word can also be used for some of these elements. Also ensure that the map's scale is included and state the source of the map and date it was retrieved.

Laura Sadowsky

State Historian and National Register Coordinator | 515.281.3989 |

Iowa Arts Council | Produce Iowa | State Historical Society of Iowa

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

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5.  RE: National Register Mapping

Posted 11-29-2017 12:24
Late to the discussion but I second the use of Google Earth Pro or Bing (both free) if you don't have GIS software. I have also seen people edit existing maps or aerial images in paint, Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop if needed.

For mac-compatible GIS software, I highly recommend QGIS. It's opensource (so free) and fairly easy to use. It's a great way to get acclimated to GIS software if you're interested, and there are lots of good tutorials available for a beginner.

Reina Murray
GIS Project Manager
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Washington DC

6.  RE: National Register Mapping

Posted 11-30-2017 11:41
Thank you to all who've commented and offered advice. Being fully aware of the National Register mapping guidelines, I've used some of these tools, including county GIS mapping software, but I've also found other options to not be at all user friendly for me, or at least not friendly to someone who doesn't have all the graphic editing software. And then I still have no solutions for creating maps of districts where each building needs a box and an address, other than hand drawing the whole thing or some similar cobbled together mess. I'll look into some of the suggestions to see if any of the new ideas will work for me. But it sounds like without without investing in architect drawing software there aren't allot of other options.

Danielle Bachant-Bell
Lord and Bach Heritage Preservation Consulting
605 W. Allen St.
Bloomington, IN 47403