Prior to any undertaking involving cultural resource obligations or as a task within itself, historic research is essential to understanding land use through documented sources. Valuable data can be obtained from other agencies at the local, state, and national levels. Among those regularly checked are the General Land Office (GLO), Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), United States Forest Service (USFS), Certified Local Governments, and Main Street programs.
Standard sources to be searched include:
- Heritage Resource files
- Land acquisition records
- Previous cultural resource management (CRM) reports and documents
- Geographic information system (GIS)
- Aerial and infra-red photographs
- Data available at universities and colleges (e.g., special collections) and local museums
- Historical/archaeological societies
- Newspaper archives
- Plat and original survey maps
- Early USGS and USFS maps
- Parish courthouse records (conveyance, sales, probate, etc.)
PTA researchers understand that the degree to which data are useful can be highly variable. For example, it has been our experience that a number of plat books are copies of the originals and often poor copies. The writing may be blurred or faded, and often cannot be deciphered. Furthermore, courthouse fires may have destroyed some records forever. PTA will exhaust all available resources to obtain the necessary information needed to complete background research for cultural resource investigations or land use studies.