Thursday, August 21, 2014

We operate a variety of training programs here at FPAN, and almost all of them involve some form of instruction on filling out a site form for the Florida Master Site File (FMSF-the state's repository for all manner of cultural sites, including Native American sites, Spanish and British sites, shipwrecks, and more). For example, there are separate forms for archaeological sites, historic cemeteries, and historic structures.

Perhaps the most important item on the form is the precise, geographic location of the cultural resource, and its perimeter or dimensions. The site file requests that all forms include a map with the site clearly labeled. This is imperative, as it ultimately places a "dot" on all state property, that future development will have to consider. In no way does a FMSF listing afford protection to a site, remember that it's simply a record or repository.

Unfortunately, recording a site's location in space can also be the most difficult and complicated aspect for a layperson to address, especially someone who is not familiar with or does not have access to GIS, GPS equipment, and/or other spatial technologies.

That said, there are many different methods one might use to create a map of the site. What follows is a relatively straightforward method I personally employ, and is friendly to anyone with an internet connection (i.e. access to the web, especially Google Maps) and a newer version of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

1. Navigate to the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) website!
Quadrangle maps or "quad-maps" as they're often called, are FREE to download from In the top-right corner of the webpage, click on the link entitled, "Map Locator & Downloader"

2. Download your map!

Zoom in on the map to Florida by either rolling your mouse ball or clicking + on the map interface.
Select “MARK POINTS” from the menu on the right.
*Hint* You can also use Google Maps to verify your location. 

Screenshot of the USGS map interface

Once you have located your site, single-click the location on the map. This brings up the 'marker' icon. Now, click on the icon itself, and download the latest version of the topographic quad-map (probably 2012); as you'll notice, they're typically named after a nearby city, province, or county.

3. Open your map in Adobe Acrobat Pro (or similar version!) 

You can zoom in and out on the quad-map by clicking on the box that has __% in the third row tab (from the top).  Once you have located the precise location of your site (again, you can double-check your location with Google Maps by pulling it up alongside your quad-map), tools in Adobe will allow you to draw the outline or border. 

4. Draw your site boundary and label your site 

At the top menu, click on View > Comments > Drawing Markups. A menu appears in the top-right corner.  I suggest clicking on “draw polygon” which allows you to connect lines freehand to create the outer boundary of your site (in red).     

You may continue by using the “Annotations” and “”Drawing Markups” menus to insert text, draw a circle around your site (if it’s relatively small), and more. Don’t forget to rename and save your document. Of course, you can print copies for your personal record, and attach your map as a PDF to your official site file form and other materials. 

Again, this is only one way of creating a map. It's best to experiment with different programs and applications, and figure out what works best for you. Good luck and happy recording! 

Text and Images by Ryan Harke, FPAN Staff


One Response so far.

  1. Thanks for such a wonderful post.

    Flat Earth Map

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