Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the Atlas website, data, and usage.
About the Atlas
The Atlas is a database of nearly 300,000 historic and archeological site records documenting Texas history. This database contains site form and location information gathered from across the state. Mapping software integrates this data with digital maps, and enables you to find a historic site's location, as well as its condition. You can access both the public data sets and the mapping functions through this web site. The Atlas provides records for Texas Historical Markers, National Register properties, State county courthouses, museums, and cemeteries, as well as neighborhood survey forms from communities all over the state. These surveys are used to determine a property's eligibility for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. More than 3100 properties in Texas have qualified for that honor to date, and you can find the complete nomination forms, descriptive narratives, and photos in the Archives as well.
The Atlas was created to provide state and federal land-use planners with information on the location and condition of Texas' cultural resources. Initial development of the Atlas was funded by Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) awards administered by the Texas Department of Transportation, Preservationists and planners use the Atlas to identify historic or prehistoric site locations during the early stages of infrastructure development, and can modify projects accordingly. The Atlas also aids cultural resource planning by reducing the costs of research for planners, historians, archeologists, and educators. However, our most important audience is you, the public. By designing the Atlas for easy access over the Web, the Texas Historical Commission hopes to provide you with an educational resource, heritage tourism tool, and preservation bulletin, all in one. Only through increased public awareness can Texas' historical heritage be properly understood, appreciated, and preserved.
The Atlas database contains more than 300,000 site, survey, and nomination forms for National Register of Historic Places properties, Texas historical markers, courthouses, cemeteries, and museums. This data comes from field surveys, the THC's in-house files, private preservation consultants, other state agencies, and universities throughout the state. See our Data Descriptions for complete details. Much of the data was gathered by transferring thousands of site forms from paper to computer files, which are stored in our database at the THC. These teams also compiled any new site records that arrived in the archives during the initial two-year data collection period. The information in the Atlas database is taken directly from the original forms, and is not edited or altered in any significant way.
Texas Historical Marker data is maintained by the THC and is updated frequently. A review of all Historical Markers locations is in the planning stages and is greatly needed. Data on new markers should be available shortly after they are erected. Other data sets, such as the National Register, are maintained by other agencies. They are updated when new datasets become available. We update these data on a quarterly basis when possible.
No archeological information is included in the Texas Historic Sites Atlas. To protect archeological sites from destruction and vandalism, state and federal laws prohibit the release of specific information on archeological sites to the general public. For this reason, the Atlas data is split into Public and Restricted data sets. All archeological site information is stored within the Restricted data set. Access to the Restricted data set is granted only to qualified preservation professionals as defined by federal and state laws. This Web site permits access to the public data sets only. For information on Texas archeology, please visit our partner site Texas Beyond History.
If you know of a museum that is not listed in the Atlas, please contact Laura Casey of the Texas Historical Commission's History Programs Division. If you're reporting an unlisted museum, please provide the museum name and a complete address. Laura will contact the museum staff and send them a survey card requesting more information, which we will add to the database.
The Atlas Website
You can search by county for broad categories of historic sites, such as historical markers and National Register properties. The full-text keyword search tool enables you to search the database for all occurrences of any word or phrase you select. You can perform a full-text search on the resources within a particular county or city, or you can choose to search the records for the entire state. There is also a Site Name search that allows you to enter a full or partial site name, such as Smith House, to search for records matching that name. You can search statewide or by county for sites that have a particular historical designation. New to the Historical Sites Atlas is a historical markers search. This search enables you to search by the marker number. The data currently available in the Atlas includes information on more than 300,000 sites in more than 30 separate databases. The data were transcribed directly from the original forms, and are unfiltered and unedited. If you encounter misspelled words, typos, or truncated records, please use the "Report an error with this data" link on the page containing the error to let us know about it.
From the selected site record window, click the “Print all detailed data” link and a new window will open with all of the site record data that is available from the applicable Record Data, Narrative, Images, and Map tabs. (All tabs are shown if data is not available for that site record.) Select your browser’s Print option and print the new all detailed data window.
There are two Atlas map components to the Atlas website: the map tab in the site records details popup window and the Atlas Map. The map tab in the site records details popup is a simplified version of the Atlas Map. When you click on the map tab you are zoomed to the selected site record to view the location of the record. The map layers can be turned on and off and you can zoom in and out and return back to the original extent of the site record by click the home button. A link to the Atlas map is provided if you want more functionality. The main Atlas map is found next to the Home button on the Atlas menu bar. This map includes searches for location, historical marker by number, and historical marker by name. The historical markers searches are simple searches and may not provide you with a result as in-depth as the main Atlas searches features found in the Home menu bar. You can switch the background map by using the Switch Basemap button, turn on and off map layers in the legend, print, measure distance, and find location coordinates from the Map Tools button. When you click on a map feature a popup window will display with the map feature’s identify result along with a link to more details.
Click the Map Tools button at the right top of the map. Select the print layout size from the dropdown button then click print. Wait for the print layout to be created “printing”, click “Printout” for your map. Then print the PDF that appears.
You can measure an area or distance, or calculate the location with the measurement tool found under the Map Tools button at the right top of the map. Select the area, distance, or location icon. After selecting icon choose unit type from dropdown. Click on the map to measure and double-click to finish measuring an area or distance. Turn off measuring by clicking on the icon. You can measure an area or distance, or calculate the location with the measurement tool found under the Map Tools button at the right top of the map. Select the area, distance, or location icon. After selecting icon choose unit type from dropdown. Click on the map to measure and double-click to finish measuring an area or distance. Turn off measuring by clicking on the icon.
Select the ESRI World Geocoder from the drop-down button in the Search found at the left top of the map. Fill in an address or place name in text box and click the looking glass button or hit enter. The map will zoom to the location.
Select the Historical Marker Number or Historical Marker Name from the drop-down button in the Search found at the left top of the map. Fill in the marker number or marker name in text box and click the looking glass button or hit enter. The map will zoom to the location.