Digital Policies and Resources

Digital Policies and Resources for:
Survey and National Register Photography
Conducting a Survey: Survey Manual, Field Form and Database
Computer Mapping

Digital technologies have dramatically changed the way the world collects, stores, evaluates, and distributes information.  While most of these changes are beneficial (or at least have the potential to be), they require learning new skills -- and sometimes relearning them as new technologies emerge. 

The following pages are posted by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office for the benefit of staff, survey consultants, and nomination preparers: 

I.  Digital Photography for National Register Nominations and Historic Property Surveys

Digital photography offers advantages in speed and cost savings for historic property surveys and National Register work, but it also places new photo management responsibilities on the photographer. 

Policy and Guidelines:  Digital Photography for Historic Property Surveys and National Register Nominations.  Minimum standards for equipment and images sizes; naming photos for surveys and nominations; submitting photographs on CDs. 

Working with Digital Photographs.  An overview of digital photography and software for editing and managing digital photographs; photo size and resolution for prints and screen presentations; using software to batch rename photos and to print labeled proof sheets. 

HPO Photography Fee Schedule  (PDF format). Charges for both film and digital photographic services provided by the HPO photo lab. . 

HPO Photo Lab Order Form:  PDF Version to print out and fill in by hand, or the Word Version to fill out on your computer. 

II. Conducting a Survey: Survey Manual, Field Form, and Database

Use of the new Access survey database is required for county and municipal historic property surveys, survey updates, and historic district National Register nominations. It is not required, expected, or desired for individual property nominations or for Study List applications.  HPO staff will prepare a customized database for your project that will include existing data for surveyed properties within your study area and default values and drop-down pick lists for selected fields to speed data entry. 

To download the following PDF files to your computer, right click on the link and select "Save Link Target As" (in IE). Or, left click to open the file, then save to your computer. 

North Carolina Architectural Survey Manual: Practical Advice for Recording Historic Resources (November 2008; PDF format)


NCHPO Generic Survey Database in Access. This is a Dropbox link to an empty "shell" Access database that can be used for projects with small numbers of newly surveyed properties. Projects with previously surveyed properties that are being updated and/or have many newly surveyed properties should request a custom shell database from HPO staff.  The shell database is available in .MDB and .ACCDB formats.  Contact Andrew Edmonds ( for more information.

NCHPO Survey Database Data Entry Manual (PDF format).  Line-by-line instructions for using the Access survey database. 

NCHPO Survey Field Form (PDF format).  A one-sheet field data entry form for field data entry that corresponds to the field structure of the Access database.  This replaces the old four-page "yellow form" formerly used in surveys. This form is optional. You may design and use your own customized form for your project. 

NCHPO Survey Field Form Guidance (PDF format).  Instructions and guidance for using the one-sheet field data entry form. 

III. Computer Mapping and HPOWEB Online Map Service

The North Carolina historic property survey is mapped in GIS and viewable online as HPOWEB ( 

At the present time, virtually all properties and districts with some sort of official designation (National Register, Study List, Determined Eligible, or Local Landmark/District designation) have been mapped.  In addition, most of the state's rural surveys have been mapped. Mapping of urban surveys, including individual properties within National Register districts, is in progress. 

ArcGIS users may wish to make use of  HPO Web Mapping Services to display HPO features within ArcMap. The data is updated daily and is always current as of the previous day's reconciliation and post. 

The HPO will extract historic feature shapefiles to provide to other agencies and qualified professional consultants, with the caveat that as we add and refine data on a daily basis, extracted shapefiles quickly become outdated.  For more information, contact Andrew Edmonds,, 919-814-6592.