Map and Database Construction for an Historic Cemetery: Methods

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Map and Database Construction for an Historic Cemetery: Methods
56
Johan Liebens
Map and Database Construction
for an Historic Cemetery:
Methods and Applications
ABSTRACT
Accurate maps and databases can be beneficial for research
and management of cemeteries, but such documents have rarely
been linked for historic cemeteries. This paper focuses on the
mapping and inventorying of historic St. Michael’s Cemetery
in Pensacola, Florida, and on potential applications of the
results to other cemeteries. The mapping involved a global
positioning system receiver to establish reference points and
a total station survey of individual marked graves, borders,
and fences. Grave inscriptions and marker attributes were
recorded on a microcassette recorder and transcribed into a
spreadsheet. All data were imported into a geographic information system to produce an accurate digital map and database.
The map and database are suited to examine architectural
trends and influences, historical social issues, evolving funerary
customs, demographic trends, and cemetery management matters. The fully interactive map and database are available on
the Web and can potentially serve archaeologists, historians,
geographers, genealogists, geologists, forensic scientists, and
anthropologists.
Introduction
Cemeteries are potential treasure troves of
information. They have long been recognized
as “mirrors of society” that reflect social structure, cultural customs, mortuary behavior, and
architectural trends (Francaviglia 1971; Schepartz et al. 1999). Cemeteries have been studied
by scientists from a wide variety of academic
disciplines, including history (Kroger 1989;
Weinstein 1992), archaeology (Raemsch and
Jamison 1999), anthropology (Dethlefsen et al.
1977; Prowse and Lovell 1996; Lazenby 1998;
Smith 2000), environmental science (Santarsiero
et al. 2000), soil science (Spongberg and Becks
2000a; 2000b), geology (Turco et al. 1997;
McNeill 1999; Schreiber and Meierding 1999),
epidemiology (Grauer and Roberts 1996; Waldron
2001), pathology (Buzon et al. 2000; Haas et al.
2000; Henneberg and Avagliano 2000; Slaus et
Historical Archaeology, 2003, 37(4):56–68.
Permission to reprint required.
Accepted for publication 2 July 2002.
al. 2000), forensics (Cox and Bell 1999), teaching (Capelle and Smith 1998), and genealogy. In
some of these disciplines, e.g., history, archaeology, soil science, geology, and epidemiology,
maps are used frequently, but spatially highly
accurate maps linked to databases do not seem
to be employed when cemeteries are studied.
In archaeology, for instance, very detailed and
accurate large-scale sketches of study sites are
often made, but this approach is not extended
to the study of cemeteries. Nevertheless, a good
map is an indispensable part of cemetery research
(Thompson 1989).
Stand-alone maps and databases of cemeteries
exist but are frequently of low quality. Older,
paper documents often only include a list of
names, grave ID numbers, and a simple map
or sketch of the cemetery (e.g., St. Paul’s
Episcopal Church 1977; Cooper and McAninch
1984). Most of these documents have little
attribute documentation for the markers,
although some researchers describe the marker
material and sometimes the condition of the
marker (Cooper and McAninch 1984). Modern
survey techniques and a computer-aided design
program were used to make a map of part of
Vicksburg National Cemetery (Schultz 1987),
but attributes of the graves were not recorded.
A state-of-the-art survey with a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, laser range finder,
and geographic information system (GIS) data
processing was conducted at Fort Benning,
Georgia, in support of an archaeological survey
of an area containing a potential Paleo-Indian
burial ground (Briuer et al. 1997). The map
does not include details of the burial ground,
nor is it accompanied by specific information
on the graves (this information was to be generated in the main phase of the study). Historic
Colonial Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, was
mapped with a laser transit (total station), but
the map “required considerable fine tuning in
order to make it a realistic representation of
the cemetery” (Trinkley and Hacker 1999:9).
In some areas graves were so close together
that they could not be mapped separately.
These acknowledged shortcomings suggest that
the map may not be entirely accurate and true
JOHAN LIEBENS—Map and Database Construction for an Historic Cemetery
to scale. No systematic documentation of the
individual inscriptions and markers accompanies
the Colonial Cemetery map.
On the Internet, many maps and databases of
cemeteries are available, and some are intended
for archaeological, historical, or genealogical
research. Many of these maps are simple hand
drawings (Christensen 2001) or generalized
maps (Burrows 2001a; Educational, Historic,
and Memorial Assoc. 2001). Very few Web
sites show the location of individual graves,
one exception being Ida Mission Cemetery in
Little Rock, Arkansas (Ida Mission Cemetery
Assoc. 2001). The name index on this site lists
the grave ID numbers but is not linked to the
map. Most of the on-line cemetery databases
are nonsearchable lists of the names of the
occupants of the graves, the dates of birth and
death, and, sometimes, general references to the
block or section number of the cemetery (Burrows 2001b; JewishGen 2001). Some of the
databases unsystematically give additional information such as the names of spouses or children
or the epitaphs (Bartosh Rule 2001; Beers 2001).
Other Web sites list only the names and dates of
those deceased deemed to be of historic or other
importance (Princeton Online 2001; University
City Historical Society 2001). Some of these
sites include active links from the map to the
database (North Carolina Department of Public
Instruction 2001; University City Historical
Society 2001). One of the more advanced Web
sites of a cemetery was developed for the funeral
artwork at Monumental Cemetery in Milan, Italy
(Celati et al. 1995). This site includes a map,
names and dates of some of the deceased, photographs of the monuments, and advanced search
and interactive capabilities.
The present study was undertaken because
spatially highly accurate maps and closely linked
databases of historic cemeteries, or even methodologies for the development of these maps and
databases, do not seem to exist despite a large
interest in cemeteries, historic and present. The
principal objective of the study was to examine
the feasibility of integrating precision surveys
using modern electronic equipment, detailed
grave attribute recording, and computer-based
mapping in GIS to map, inventory, analyze, and
manage cemeteries. A second objective of the
study was to assess the suitability of the GIS
format and the World Wide Web for dissemi-
57
nating this type of information to the general
public and scientific community.
St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida,
offered an opportunity to conduct this research
because of a renewed interest in its preservation. The St. Michael’s Cemetery Foundation
was established in 1985 to provide for the
restoration, preservation, and maintenance of the
cemetery, which was in a state of disrepair at
the time. Improvements were slow in coming,
in part because few written records for the cemetery existed. For instance, it was not known
how many graves were present at the cemetery,
where the graves were, how many open plots
were available, how the cemetery was laid out,
etc. When the desire arose recently to increase
preservation and restoration efforts, it became
clear that good baseline data, i.e., a map and
database, were needed. This paper will focus
on the methods that were employed to create the
map and database and on potential applications
of the resulting GIS data for the cemetery.
Brief History of St. Michael’s Cemetery
There is some evidence, based on church fee
records, that the site of St. Michael’s Cemetery
was being used as a burial ground by the
Catholic Church as early as 1786 (Thompson
1988). This date would make it one of the
two earliest extant nonnative cemeteries in
Florida, the other being Tolomato Cemetery in
St. Augustine (Coomes 1976). The first formal
record of St. Michael’s Cemetery dates from
1810 in the form of a survey that was ordered
in 1807 by the Spanish Intendant General in
response to a request by the Catholic Church.
Various maps show that the cemetery remained
in use throughout the 19th century. An account
by Union troops stationed in Pensacola during
the Civil War indicates that some destruction
occurred at that time as soldiers were ordered
to destroy headstones and monuments ostensibly
so that their field of fire was not obstructed, and
the enemy was not protected. Several newspaper
reports and photographs from the late-19th and
early-20th century indicate that the cemetery
was in an unkempt state and overgrown with
shrubbery and vines (Thompson 1988). When
a genealogical survey was conducted in the
1930s, about 1,500 marked graves were identified. Other evidence such as fencing, curbing,
58
HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 37(4)
and coping, however, suggested the presence of
more than 2,700 graves. Although interments
continued throughout the second half of the
20th century, many areas remained in a state of
disrepair. Acts of vandalism, defacing markers,
and destroying or damaging monuments occasionally occurred in that period and as recently
as 1999. Originally established as 30 arpents,
approximately 25 acres, St. Michael’s Cemetery
was reduced over time to its current size of
about 8 acres.
Originally St. Michael’s Cemetery was assigned
to the Catholic inhabitants of Pensacola, but
people of all faiths have been buried at St.
Michael’s over the years. The cemetery is,
therefore, a true cultural resource that represents
an across-the-board record of burial customs,
funerary art, architecture, etc. It is also an
historic resource with the graves of individuals such as Joseph Noriega, Jr. (1788–1827),
the first mayor of Spanish Pensacola; Dorothy
Walton (1759–1832), wife of George Walton, a
signer of the Declaration of Independence; Stephen R. Mallory (1812–1876), U.S. senator from
Florida and secretary of the Confederate Navy
(Figure 1); Eugenio Sierra (1750–1849), surgeon
for the Spanish Army; and Francisco Moreno
(1791–1882), vice-consul of Spain during the
colonial period. Because of its cultural and historic heritage, St. Michael’s Cemetery is on the
National Register of Historic Places, is part of
a national register historic district in downtown
Pensacola, and is on the state list of archaeological sites.
Methods
FIGURE 1. Grave of Stephen Russell Mallory and his wife
Angela Moreno. Stephen Mallory was U.S. Senator from
Florida from 1852 to 1861 and secretary of the Confederate Navy.
FIGURE 2. Total station, mounted on tripod and placed over
point of known coordinates.
St. Michael’s Cemetery was mapped with a
total station (Figure 2), a surveying instrument
that combines an electronic transit with an
electronic distance measuring (EDM) device.
The transit part of the instrument measures
horizontal and vertical angles accurately and
consistently with respect to reference directions,
i.e., zero marks, set by the operator. The distance-measuring device emits an infrared signal
that is bounced off a target and received back
by the EDM device. Using the phase difference between the outgoing and incoming
signal, the device can determine the distance
to the target. With the horizontal and vertical angles and the distance to the target, the
three-dimensional coordinates of the target can
be calculated, given that the total station is set
up at a point of known coordinates and that
a second point of known coordinates can be
surveyed. To obtain a strong return signal for
the EDM device, a reflecting prism was used
as the target in the present study (Figure 3).
The prism was mounted on a pointed rod that
was placed at the four corners of each grave
and surveyed each time with the total station.
The accuracy of the equipment, as per the
manufacturers specifications, is 5 arcsec for the
transit and ±(3+2 ppm)mm for the EDM device
(Sokkia 1997). The 2 ppm means that 2 mm
have to be added to the accuracy for every
1,000 m of measured distance. Raw survey
data (i.e., angles and distance) were transferred
JOHAN LIEBENS—Map and Database Construction for an Historic Cemetery
FIGURE 3. Prism, needed to obtain strong return signal, is
placed at corner of a grave and held vertically.
in real time from the total station to an electronic field book. The field book converted
the data to coordinates and stored the raw data
and the coordinates together with a unique ID
number for each point. The coordinates and
ID numbers for all surveyed points were subsequently downloaded to a personal computer
as a text file and imported into GIS software.
Each set of four consecutive points in the text
file was automatically connected with a line to
create a polygon (i.e., a rectangle) representing
a grave.
As mentioned above, the coordinates of a surveyed point can be calculated by the electronic
field book if the coordinates for the total station
and one additional point are known. Because
no points of known coordinates were available
at or near the cemetery, a differential GPS was
used to survey reference points at strategic locations in the cemetery. The accuracy of the GPS
was about 0.5 m (Liebens 2000). This accuracy
59
is an order of magnitude larger than that of the
total station but is still more than adequate
for this type of work because the positional
accuracy of these two points only affects the
apparent location of the cemetery with respect
to surrounding features (streets, buildings, etc.).
It does not affect the internal accuracy of the
cemetery map.
The inscriptions on the grave markers and
information about the markers were dictated into
a microcassette recorder. In total, 22 attributes
were recorded (first name, middle initial, last
name, suffix, maiden name, date of birth, year
of birth, date of death, year of death, birthplace,
affiliation, sex, age, number of persons per grave
[as indicated on marker], marker orientation,
marker material, marker preservation [on a fivestep scale], design motifs on marker [two largest ones], epitaph, enclosure material, comment).
The ID number for the first surveyed corner of
each grave was also recorded as an attribute to
be able to link the marker information to the GIS
map. To ensure consistency in the recording of
the information, a cheat sheet with all acceptable
entries for the marker characteristics was used.
The recorded information was transcribed into a
spreadsheet with a Dictaphone system, imported
into the GIS software, and linked to the corresponding graves. To verify the correctness and
completeness of the map and database, 35 teams
(of two volunteers each) field checked a section
of the cemetery with a printed version of the
map and database.
Discussion of Methods
Fieldwork
Two types of conspicuous human error
occurred in the total station survey. In one
type, the four corners of a grave were not
surveyed consistently in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Because the import
module of the GIS assumed that all points
were surveyed consecutively and had to be connected in order, bow ties would result (Figure
4a). These bow ties could be identified visually
on the map and edited manually. In the other
type of error, a corner was surveyed twice or
skipped. Because the import module assumed
that each feature, i.e., each grave, consisted of
exactly four corners, this error led to graves
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HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 37(4)
FIGURE 4. Distortions resulting from errors in field survey: a, bow ties resulting from not surveying four corners consecutively; b, distortions resulting from surveying a corner twice or skipping a corner.
being odd shaped or connected to each other
(Figure 4b). This was also easily seen on-screen
and could be edited manually. Manual editing
was practicable because relatively few of these
mistakes were made in the survey. Verification
of the field data by the volunteers resulted in
the addition of a few omitted graves to the map
and some additions and corrections to the database. The corrections were recorded on paper
in the field and subsequently entered manually
into the GIS. Although this verification process
did not reveal systematic or major errors, it is
a worthwhile effort to ensure optimal quality of
the map and database.
Part of the survey was hampered by the
presence of large oak trees and grave markers that blocked the view of the total station.
To resolve this problem, the total station was
relocated several times after the first systematic
survey of the cemetery to new strategic positions from which the remaining unsurveyed
graves were visible. Graves overgrown with
vegetation or covered with soil and debris also
posed a problem (Figure 5). In some cases, all
corners could be uncovered with a shovel and
surveyed, but in other cases only three corners
could be surveyed, and the grave had to be
manually edited in the GIS.
Initially, attributes were entered into a spreadsheet in the field, but the laptop computer locked
up due to the unavoidable rough handling. More
rugged laptops, built for use in the field, would
FIGURE 5. Partially overgrown grave of which one corner
could not be surveyed.
JOHAN LIEBENS—Map and Database Construction for an Historic Cemetery
stand up to the rough handling but are very
expensive. The current method of using a
microcassette recorder involves a transcription
but uses inexpensive equipment and can keep
pace with the survey. Filling out a form for
each marker and typing it in the office proved
to be somewhat slower in the field and could
not always keep pace with the survey. The main
difficulty in constructing the database was that
some inscriptions on highly weathered markers
were unreadable. Although rubbing techniques to
bring out inscriptions exist, it was not practical
to employ them in this type of survey because
of their time-consuming nature. Also, the Association for Gravestone Studies and many other
cemetery preservation organizations have argued
against grave rubbing as it can, over time,
damage markers.
Accuracy Estimates and
Alternative Methods
Although the theoretical accuracy of a total station is ample for this type of work, independent
quality assurance and quality control measures
were implemented to ensure the overall quality
of the map. At the beginning of each field day,
two reference points with known coordinates
were surveyed, in addition to the two required
for the set up, and the measured coordinates
were compared to the true coordinates. This
allowed the surveyor to detect and correct any
mistake in the instrument setup before surveying
graves. After the fieldwork was completed, draft
maps showed that a small number of graves had
been surveyed twice by mistake. Zooming in
with the GIS and measuring the offset between
the overlapping, twice-measured graves revealed
errors of 3 to 5 cm.
Other survey methods such as large-scale aerial
photograph interpretation and survey-grade GPS
mapping can potentially be employed for this
type of survey. The methods were, however,
impractical at St. Michael’s Cemetery because
of the dense tree cover in parts of the cemetery. In principle, existing paper maps could
have been scanned or digitized into the GIS but,
as is often the case with this kind of document,
adequate metadata with information about the
source, quality, coordinate system, etc., of the
maps were unavailable.
61
Results and Applications
General Results
A total of 3,200 marked graves are present
at St. Michael’s Cemetery. The field survey,
excluding the volunteer field check, took a threeperson crew 20 days. Importing the survey and
attribute data into a GIS, manually editing the
minor errors present, and producing a map for
hard copy and Web publishing required eight
person-days.
The oldest currently marked grave at St.
Michael’s Cemetery dates from 1811, the earliest year of birth on a marker is from 1767. It
is possible that older graves are present, since
the undulating ground surface suggests that
many unmarked graves exist. The existence of
numerous unmarked graves would be consistent
with findings at other historical cemeteries (Hall
1978; Trinkley and Hacker 1999). These potential sites of unmarked graves were not mapped
because precisely locating them with a probe or
any other method is a very time-consuming task
and outside the scope of this project. However,
the usefulness of this type of map and database
can benefit greatly from including the location of
unmarked graves.
The map of St. Michael’s Cemetery shows
that it is not laid out systematically in sections
or rows. Thematic maps depicting interments
from a given time period show that, although
somewhat concentrated in certain areas, graves
of a given time period can be found throughout
the cemetery (Figure 6). These observations
suggest that there never was a well-planned
development of St. Michael’s Cemetery and are
consistent with the scarcity of written records and
with findings at other cemeteries predating the
Rural Cemetery Movement of the mid-19th century (Sloane 1991). However, it is also possible
that the lack of concentrations of coeval graves
is due to the presence of large family plots with
interments from different time periods.
When grouping the data per half-century time
period, data show that the first half of the 20th
century accounts for the most marked graves
(39%). This fact reflects both the declining
number of interments during the second half
of the 20th century, due to space limitation and
the dilapidated state of the cemetery, and declin-
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HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 37(4)
built in that period (only 16% of the graves date
from the same period) (Figure 7). This increase
in monuments coincided with an economic expansion that brought to Pensacola wealth associated
with timber harvesting, sawmills, shipping, and
boat building. The increase may also be a
reflection of the popular coeval social movement
called the Beautification of Death (Bell 1990).
The economic growth of Pensacola ended about
1920; in 1924 the last monument of that era was
constructed. Monuments would not be built again
until the 1960s and 1970s. During the 20th century architectural diversity at St. Michael’s Cemetery decreased gradually, and in the second half
of the century, 94% of the markers were headboards, ledgers, or a combination of the two.
The materials used for the grave markers also
changed over time. In the 19th century marble
FIGURE 6. Graves dating to second half of 19th century. No
systematic development is apparent as graves are spread
throughout cemetery.
ing numbers of visually identifiable graves from
before 1900, due to deterioration and destruction
of the markers. Additionally, many of the earliest graves may never have been marked.
Potential Applications of Database
Systematic quantitative data generated by studies like the present one are superior to other
cemetery maps and databases in that they are
fully searchable and that maps, tables, graphs,
and statistics of attributes can be produced
quickly and with little effort by anyone with a
basic computer knowledge.
A simple search of the database by marker
type, for instance, reveals some clear historical
architectural trends at St. Michael’s Cemetery.
Proportionally more box tombs and obelisks were
built in the first half of the 19th century than in
any other half-century. In the second half of the
19th century, monuments also became popular as
more than half of the extant monuments were
FIGURE 7. Monument marking the grave of Daniel F. Sullivan
(1833–1884), a prominent lumber baron. The monument
is the most imposing marker in St. Michael’s Cemetery. A
photograph from 1896 shows that a large cross was at the
top of the monument.
JOHAN LIEBENS—Map and Database Construction for an Historic Cemetery
was the dominant material, accounting for 65%
of extant markers from the first half of the century and 74% of extant markers from the second
half of the century. This dominance of marble
as the material of choice for grave markers in
the 19th century is consistent with findings in
New England (Deetz 1988). In the first half
of the 20th century, granite became popular
at St. Michael’s Cemetery and turned into the
most widely utilized material (44% of all extant
markers) in the second half of the century. At
that time, a variety of other materials was also
used regularly, including marble, concrete, and a
combination of concrete with marble or granite.
Two wooden markers remain at St. Michael’s
Cemetery, but their age is not known (Figure 8).
Obviously, the permanence of the various materials affects current numbers, but these results
illustrate the potential applicability of this type
of systematic database.
The majority of the markers face east (92%),
as is to be expected at a predominantly Christian cemetery. However, the number of eastfacing burials increased considerably with time
(Table 1). More complex cross tabulations can
also be generated in the GIS with relative ease
(Table 2). The quantitative information in this
table, for example, would be of interest to geologists, engineers, architects, or historians studying
weathering of rock and building materials.
Of the 3,200 marked graves at St. Michael’s
Cemetery, 1,118 are of women and 1,310 are
of men. On the other graves, the sex is not
indicated. The proportions of the various marker
types and design motifs differ less than 1%
between graves of men and women and, thus,
are virtually identical for both sexes. The only
significant variations were found for simple ledgers (24% of graves of women, 21% of graves
TABLE 1
ORIENTATION OF MARKERS PER HALF-CENTURY
Time period
%
east facing
%
west facing
%
south facing
1800–1849
1850–1899
1900–1949
1950–1999
55
81
96
97
40
15
4
2
5
3
0
0
Total
92
7
1
63
FIGURE 8. One of the two remaining wooden grave markers
at St. Michael’s Cemetery. Historical accounts and photographs indicate that many wooden markers and fences were
present at St. Michael’s cemetery during the 19th century
and as late as the 1930s.
of men) and flower motifs (on 27% of graves of
women, 21% of graves of men). This information indicates that at St. Michael’s Cemetery the
burial treatment for men and women was very
similar. A possible explanation is that, especially
in historic times, the status of a woman was
based primarily on the reputation of her family
(Mackie 1988). These data might also be further
cross tabulated per time period to examine the
changing socio-economic status of women, for
instance.
An examination of the distribution of age at
death shows clear trends and variations with time
(Figure 9). In the first half of the 19th century,
infant mortality was high, and mortality between
30 and 55 years of age was relatively high, then
declined thereafter. The oldest individual noted
was 86 at the time of his death. In the second
64
HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 37(4)
TABLE 2
NUMBER OF GRAVES FOR THE TWO MOST COMMON ORIENTATIONS
PER HALF CENTURY AND SELECTED MARKER MATERIALS
E
1800–1849
1850–1899
Concrete
1
15
Concrete and granite
0
5
Concrete and marble
1
26
Granite
2
27
W
1900–1949
1950–1999
1800–1849
1850–1899 1900–1949
1950–1999
77
59
1
5
4
0
100
118
0
1
1
0
141
51
5
6
2
1
309
231
1
8
11
10
Limestone
0
6
1
0
0
0
0
0
Marble
24
304
504
71
17
49
25
2
Marble and brick
5
2
2
0
1
0
0
0
Marble and granite
0
2
3
3
0
0
1
0
Sandstone
1
2
3
0
0
0
0
0
Sandstone and marble
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
Total
34
391
1140
533
25
69
44
13
half of the 19th century a similar trend existed,
but infant mortality was lower and the maximum
age was higher. In the first half of the 20th century middle age mortality declined, but mortality
after 60 years increased because of the higher
survival rate to that age. In the second half of
the 20th century infant mortality was lowest, and
mortality remained relatively low until 40–60
years of age. These trends and variations over
time have been established long ago and are well
known (Bell 1994), but their clear presence in
this graph suggests that this type of systematic
quantitative database may be suited for more
FIGURE 9. Mortality rate versus age for half-century time
periods. Lines represent 3-year moving average. Line for
1800–1849 is jagged due to relatively low number of graves
from that period.
detailed or local analyses of mortality. However,
caution has to be exercised when interpreting and
extending demographic data from grave markers
(Hall 1978; Goodman et al. 1988).
Potential Applications of Map
Although the previous examples show possible uses of the database, the greatest value of
this type of data lies in its potential for spatial
analysis in support of management of historic
and modern cemeteries. One of the issues at
St. Michael’s Cemetery and other historic cemeteries is new interments. Because of the seemingly uncontrolled development of St. Michael’s
Cemetery, it is unclear if open spaces for new
burials exist, how many exist, where they are,
or how large they are. Simple GIS operations
can address these questions. A buffer zone of a
given width in which future burials are prohibited
can be drawn automatically around all mapped
features such as graves, roads, walkways, buildings, and fences. The features and their buffer
zones can then be recoded in GIS to indicate
their unavailability, leaving only areas available
for new burials showing on the map. Analysis
of this type of map and the associated database reveals that in the case of St. Michael’s
Cemetery, there are 223 open spaces scattered
JOHAN LIEBENS—Map and Database Construction for an Historic Cemetery
65
FIGURE 10. Example of viewshed analysis: a, location of observation points at two entrances (stars) and selected
monuments (rectangles); b, areas visible from both observation points (white), visible from one observation point (gray),
and from no observation point (black); c, available space (black) and occupied land (white) based on 5 ft. buffer around
all existing features; d, maps b and c combined, showing in black the available space that can not be seen from either
observation point and, thus, is suited for the location of new building.
66
throughout the cemetery, ranging in size from
3.5 to 12,080 ft2. This type of map can also
be overlaid on a map of historically important
graves to assist in the location of interpretative trails, benches, walkways, etc., and can be
updated with minimal effort if new burials occur
or unmarked graves are identified by probing or
other means.
Another issue at St. Michael’s Cemetery
is planning the location of a new caretaker’s
building. This involves not only identifying
available space but also selecting an area that
is generally hidden from view. GIS allows the
researcher to make a map of invisible areas
based on the input of height, size, and location
of observation points and obstacles. The resulting “view-shed” analysis map can be combined
with the map of the available open spaces to
produce a plan of the open spaces that cannot
be seen from the observation points and, thus,
may be suited for the construction of the new
building (Figure 10).
Web Site
The complete map and database of St.
Michael’s Cemetery were posted <http:
//uwfgis.evr.uwf.edu/~evrgis/UWFmaps.htm> on
the Web with interactive mapping service software. The Web site is fully interactive, has map
navigation tools and supports Boolean searches
and queries on all attributes. Feedback received
from the public indicates that a large interest
in this type of information exists, but that the
advanced features of the interactive mapping
service software are confusing to the layperson.
Several requests for traditional paper maps were
received. As a result, a parallel Web page with
simple functionality was established for the general public. Visitors to the site have now provided ancillary information that has been added
to the database.
Conclusions
Cemeteries have been studied by scientists
from a variety of disciplines, including some
in which maps are commonly used. Spatially
highly accurate maps and databases of cemeteries, however, are scarce in the literature and on
the Internet. Nevertheless, scientific research
and management of cemeteries, both historic
HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 37(4)
and recent, can greatly benefit from the use of
maps and databases with very accurate locational information. This study has shown that
a high quality map of a cemetery and an extensive, systematic database can be constructed efficiently with electronic survey instruments and
inexpensive attribute collecting methods. The
resulting map and database can be manipulated
in GIS, allowing thematic maps, tables, graphs,
and statistics of grave attributes to be generated
expeditiously. Results of this study indicate
that, among many other potential applications,
these maps and databases can facilitate analysis
of funerary architecture, changes in the use of
building materials, historical aspects of social
and gender issues, and mortality trends. These
maps and databases are also valuable tools for
the management of cemeteries, for instance to
locate sites for new interments, buildings, walkways, etc. Posting on the Internet of interactive
versions of this type of map and database has
become possible, thanks to relatively new software. The Internet makes the information easily
accessible to scientists and the general public.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This paper is the result of the efforts of many, including
students and faculty at the University of West Florida,
members of St. Michael’s Cemetery Preservation Board,
and community volunteers. Kim Carter helped with the
field survey as my student assistant, Teresa Aberle
and Kristal Flanders assisted with GIS operations.
The original manuscript greatly benefited from the
suggestions by three reviewers and the editor. This
project was financially supported by the University of
West Florida.
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JOHAN LIEBENS
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11000 UNIVERSITY PARKWAY
PENSACOLA, FL 32514

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