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Center for Geospatial Information Technology partners with Alexandria on digital historic map preservation


NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, June 10, 2005 – Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology (CGIT) in the National Capital Region, has announced that it will collaborate with the Office of Historic Alexandria to digitally preserve important historic maps for the Alexandria Archaeology Museum beginning with the area outside of Old Town Alexandria where archaeological resources are most threatened by expanding development. Direct funds from the City of Alexandria in addition to a grant from the Historic Alexandria Foundation will allow Virginia Tech CGIT to develop a framework for a Historic Alexandria Digital Atlas based on Geographical Information System (GIS) technology.

GIS is a technology that links interpretive information to geographical locations. The result is multiple layers of data assembled into a digital map used to visualize, explore, query, edit and analyze geographical information.

Seeing historic maps and photographs as digital and printed overlays on contemporary city maps will enable researchers and archaeologists from the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, the City of Alexandria, and the general public to identify locations of prehistoric and historic archaeological sites -- including Civil War sites, farmsteads, plantation houses, slave quarters, mills and mill races -- with greater accuracy and speed.

Alexandria Archaeology is a division within the Office of Historic Alexandria. Since 1989, city archaeologists have used a variety of historical and contemporary maps to assist in site identification to ensure the preservation and/or documentation of archaeological resources.

“In the City of Alexandria, we want to use every preservation method available to ensure the protection and appreciation of our town’s heritage,” said Jean Taylor Frederico, director of the Office of Historic Alexandria. “The [Historic] Alexandria Digital Atlas is an important step forward using 21st century technology to save tangible remains from many centuries of Alexandria’s past.”

“Virginia Tech is very pleased to be undertaking this project with the Office of Historic Alexandria,” said Kitty Hancock, associate director, Center for Geospatial Technology, Virginia Tech. “We see this as a first step in what we hope will be a long-term partnership to support Alexandria Archaeology’s research and historic preservation goals.”

Virginia Tech has fostered a growing partnership with the greater metropolitan Washington, D.C., community since 1969. Today, the university’s presence in the National Capital Region includes graduate programs and research centers in Alexandria, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas, and Middleburg. In addition to supporting the university’s teaching and research mission, Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region has established collaborations with local and federal agencies, businesses, and other institutions of higher education.