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Hixson Plat Map Atlases of Michigan

By Kathleen Weessies The Hixson Plat Map Atlases of Michigan digital collection contains Hixson plat books for 36 of Michigan’s 83 counties. The W. W. Hixson & Co. published land atlases for numerous midwest states between 1920 and 1955. Plat books are atlases showing larger parcel boundaries and the owner’s name. A plat atlas generally has one township per page (36 square miles), identifying who owns individual parcels of land and the number of acres in each parcel. The plat shows township sections, roads, railroads, boundaries of towns and urban areas, and bodies of water. Local schools, churches and cemeteries are also noted on each map. Since plat maps can be used to trace property ownership over time, they are often sought out by genealogists or people interested in family histories, as well as by historians. No Hixson plat books have dates on them. We know the years the company was in business and we can estimate dates based on the naming on highways. Caption: Before the f
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Notes from the BTAA Geoportal's Interface Committee

By Daniel Dotson The BTAA Geoportal has several committees working towards making the Geoportal happen and improving it. This first blog is going to focus on examples of the Interface Committee 's recent work and how that has affected the Geoportal. User Testing We work with students (some familiar with geospatial information topics, some not) and walk them through a series of tasks to see how they respond. Do they find something hard to do? Do they misunderstand something they so or do? Do they not see a path to get the answer? Do they run into an error? We take the information we gather from these tests and then decide on what changes we need to make to the interface to improve it. A simple change was to add a 4th search box to the advanced search since there were only 4 search fields - a student pointed that out as something we could do! Sometimes the changes are more complicated. For example, changes to the map interface may take a bit longer to implement. Adding options for he

The Data Repository for the University of Minnesota (DRUM)

By Melinda Kernik.  What’s in this collection? The  Data Repository for the University of Minnesota (DRUM) archives data generated from student, staff, and faculty researchers from a wide range of disciplines.  Over fifty of the datasets have a spatial component, with varied topics including:   reconstruction of river discharge since the last glacial maximum in North America digitized highway network showing dates of freeway construction in and around the Twin Cities, Minnesota (1920-1995) distribution models of invasive species in Minnesota Librarian curators review all submissions to DRUM and work with researchers to ensure that the data are complete and well described. Collection highlight One of the most frequently downloaded items in DRUM is data about racially restrictive covenants in Hennepin County .  The files have been downloaded more than 6500 times in the last 11 months!   Racial covenants were legal clauses embedded in property records that restricted ownership and occupa

The Bridges of BTAA Counties

By Cecilia Smith. What are the items? The BTAA Geoportal collates spatial layers from local and state agencies that cover a range of themes, including infrastructure. Among these layers are bridge datasets at the city, county, and state levels. Browse the  bridges of BTAA Counties What BTAA Library submitted the item? All 13 members of the BTAA Geoportal have submitted datasets of bridges in their states. Interesting tidbits: The types of data on bridges differ among states: Some datasets, like Nebraska Bridges , include the date of bridge construction and reconstruction for all bridges in the state. The oldest listed bridge in the dataset was constructed in 1888. IowaDOT provides individual feature layers for bridges proposed to replace the Black Hawk Bridge in Lansing, IA, including alternatives called the Purple Bridge , Blue Bridge , and Green Bridge . Maryland’s Historic Highway Bridges contains historical bridges throughout the state. Images of the bridges can be viewed by cl

An interview with Tim Lauxmann, Geodata Data Manager, State of Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, Center for Shared Solutions

Interviewer: Kathleen Weessies. This interview is part of our Data Provider Series , which highlights local governments and institutions that offer open GIS data. In each interview, providers tell us about their missions and data resources. We hope this will be a great way for readers to learn more about local GIS developments and new initiatives.

Featured Item: Folklore Music Map of the United States

 By Laura Kane McElfresh. Folklore Music Map of the United States by Dorothea Dix Lawrence, from the Primer of American Music

Featured Collection: The Michigan survey plats, 1816-1860

By Kathleen Weessies. The Michigan survey plats, 1816-1860 This collection consists of 2,466 hand-drawn maps of Michigan’s townships. Between 1816 and 1860, surveyors hired by the United States General Land Office walked and measured every township line and section (mile) line in the State of Michigan. Detailed notes were taken, and from those notes sketched maps were drawn of every survey township. The original plat maps were scanned by the Archives of Michigan and are now discoverable via their website https://Michiganology.org and geographically organized via the BTAA geoportal. The original plat maps of the public land survey of Michigan are a valuable resource for original land survey information, as well as for understanding Michigan’s landscape. The plat maps and the corresponding surveyor’s notes contain detailed information about the original landcover and features of Michigan prior to dense settlement. The public may view each map in an interactive website or download each

Featured Item: Chicago Ethnic Group Shapefiles 1868-1940

 By Cecilia Smith. Chicago Ethnic Group Shapefiles 1868-1940 What are the items? These shapefiles show generalized majority ethnic groups in areas across Chicago from 1868, 1884, 1898, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. The map and historical information presented here include materials reflecting the attitudes, language, and stereotypes of an earlier time period. These materials are presented as historical resources in support of study and research. Inclusion of such materials does not constitute an endorsement of their content by the BTAA Geoportal or the University of Chicago. What BTAA Library submitted the item? University of Chicago Interesting tidbits: The data was derived from a 1948 doctoral dissertation titled “The effects of subsidy of Presbyterian Churches" by Henry Hughes Presler. Presler’s dissertation explored the relationship of Presbyterian churches to ethnic groups in Chicago and contains 10 maps. Where can I find out more? Presler’s dissertation can be found at Mansue

Featured collections: LiDAR and Aerial Imagery Collections for Wisconsin

 By Jaime Martindale. In recent years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has made improving access to LiDAR and aerial imagery a priority in the B1G Geoportal. Building on the popularity of the historic 1937-1941 aerial photos of Wisconsin , (one of the most popular resources in the B1G Geoportal for several years running) our current focus has been on enhancing discovery to more current aerial imagery and LiDAR elevation data currently housed within the WisconsinView repository. WisconsinView.org (part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center) serves as the repository for remotely sensed data in Wisconsin -- from LiDAR and satellite imagery, to digital orthophotography, tornado and flood data. In partnership with WisconsinView, the UW Robinson Map Library and WI State Cartographer’s Office are working to write metadata and facilitate access to these collections via the B1G Geoportal. This work results in greater exposure to the data and imagery

Featured Map: Seventy five local communities in Chicago, distribution of Committee of Fifteen cases for 1930

 By Cecilia Smith. Seventy five local communities in Chicago, distribution of Committee of Fifteen cases for 1930 What is the item? This is a map of “vice resorts” in Chicago, or places where prostitution took place during the year 1930. These areas were identified by the Chicago Committee of the Fifteen, which formed in 1908 to fight “vices” in the city. Major subjects of their investigations were pandering, prostitution, crime, homosexual sex, and interracial relationships. The locations are overlaid on the 75 community areas that existed at the time. It was originally published in Walter Reckless’ Vice in Chicago (1933). The map and historical information presented here include materials reflecting the attitudes, language, and stereotypes of an earlier time period. These materials are presented as historical resources in support of study and research. Inclusion of such materials does not constitute an endorsement of their content by the BTAA Geoportal or the University of Chicago.