Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, preservation of Mt. Hope Cemetery was a continuing effort by Raleigh City Cemeteries Preservation Inc. (RCCP). After two years of unsuccessfully exploring funding options for the project, the non-profit historic preservation organization contracted KCI’s geospatial solutions team to complete the task. Focusing on the oldest and most at-risk headstones, KCI provided mapping and data collection of over 1,500 grave markers located within the 11-acre historic section of the cemetery, as well as a database of all the gathered data.
To meet their budget, KCI enlisted a summer intern to collect the field data with KCI geospatial staff performing oversight and QA/QC of the data collected. While a handheld GPS collected high-accuracy locations of each historic grave marker, it also presented a unique challenge to the schedule, allowing for only three and a half hours of data collection daily due to the device’s battery life. To overcome this obstacle, the team developed an alternate schedule that called for a half day of field data collection followed by a half day of QA/QC, a process which proved so effective that the entire 11 acres of historic cemetery were inventoried in the span of only four weeks.
Since many of the headstones are degrading, RCCP wanted to capture and create a searchable historical record before the information is lost to weather and time.
Eric G. WilsonGIS Application Developer
With the information captured, the team was able to deliver a fully searchable database of all headstone locations and related information including birth and death dates of the interred individuals and photos of each marker. The new bank of knowledge is readily available to family members, historians, students and the public seeking to learn more about the historic cemetery, while also helping to preserve and share Raleigh’s African-American history. The RCCP was exceedingly pleased with the quality and accuracy of the data, and the project generated positive feedback and goodwill for both the client and for KCI.
The Raleigh Geospatial staff continued to tell the story of Mt. Hope, using the data to perform a demographic analysis of the interred, which will help the community to better understand how the cemetery compares to others in the nation across a variety of variables. Comparisons between mortality rates, size and age of the population, and race of the population at Mt. Hope allows for broader conclusions to be drawn about life for African American residents in North Carolina.
Learn more by listening to the Capital Mapping Crew interview with Jane Thurman of Raleigh City Cemeteries: