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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago

Creating Access for Historic Texas Soil Surveys: A Digitization Case-Study

Fall 2006/Spring 2007

reserve stipulations

back to Reviews & Professional Writing

back to TXSS Paper

About the Project

scope of project: all Texas soil surveys prior to 1950
  • some obtained via ILL
  • smaller format


collection development policy

  • slightly arbitrary
    • (year- and state-based)
      • about 99 in that category
    • also supports these subjects/fields:
      • soil history
      • science (especially the history of science)
      • geography
      • government documents
  • not many early up
  • maybe a few for North Carolina, as well


not for scientific value; value is:

  • cultural
  • historical
  • understanding the science of the time


Soil Survey History & Background

earliest soil surveys

  • US Agricultural Field of Operations, Bureau of Soils
  • books = reprints = (stoll pag.?)
  • adv. sheets - bureau operations soils
  • not certain what order they were issued in
  • detail level varies



  • unsure of original audience
    • SS's started before the 1930's soil erosion problems
  • now used for farmers, gardeners, builders, man-made lakes
  • some land-grant boundaries


maps & printing

  • soil types
  • other feature = as valid landmarks?
  • how were they done?
    • dissertation on old soil survey process; currently being digitized
  • varies per map: schools, etc.
  • key on each map for types of soil
  • later maps tell what each type of soil is good for
  • also include topo-map-like symbols
  • some tell base map (?)
  • privately printed: 6-8 printers (in NY and WS); don't know publishers' precise role
  • most are the same scale: 1" = 1 mile
  • size of maps vary widely



  • newer books often have photo plates
  • some have other figures/tables, etc.


Digitization Process

  1. Sorting
  2. QC (Quality Control)
  3. Deskew
  4. ReSize
  5. OCR
  6. Metadata
  7. ToUpload
    1. automated process: scripts
  8. Uploaded
  9. (Display Interface)


while the object is in the lab

  • quality control of image is checked
  • metadata is created
  • ideal (particularly for descriptive metadata)




book scanning

  • books were scanned on the Zeutschel; a few on the Betterlight (QC bitonal)


map scanning

  • Betterlight scanback camera for maps (Mary O'Connor did the scanning)
  • map up against vacuum easel (for photo)
  • supported by magnets and the vacuum
    • kept map smooth to decrease fold lines
  • each scanned with color target and magnet ruler (crosstick)
  • probably not yet color profiled



  • will use Zoomify for magnification and navigation in Portal to TX History
  • need more maps to justify a better portal viewing application



book & map metadata

  • metadata for each (created at different times)
  • different dates for each; maps issued separately from book?
  • maps = publication date of book (iffy)
  • coverage date = date on map


Each SS record contains many creators and contributors.

Parent agency changed: US Agricultural Soil Survey Department, US Agricultural Experimental Station, corporate authors (also sometimes US AES)


Eventually, the relation field will have a permalink (once all uploaded) to the linking book or map. Using the relation field to connect the soil survey map with its appropriate book volume.

  • Relation field (for map): title and volume number of the book.
    • MAP TITLE has part: BOOK TITLE, VOLUME #.
  • Physical Description field: volume # of #.


collection issues

  • all metadata records contain "soil survey" somewhere so that they can be easily pulled together as a collection
  • not yet labeled as a collection
    • their collection is under the broad "Texas History Collection" label assigned to the Portal to Texas History



  • sometimes lonen L. (???) listed participants
  • sometimes different date (coverage date in metadata)
    • put them in the notes field
    • are searchable as keywords
  • credited corporate authors only
  • base map credit - contributor (as "cartographer")
  • full records advocate notes (flexible system)
  • can add keywords that aren't controlled vocabulary
    • try to use LCSH for Portal browse
  • more description on maps than on books
    • list type of features



  • description taken from TOC
    • list counties (helps discovery)
  • will be OCR'd (helps discovery)
    • not sure if will OCR maps (did OCR newsmaps)
    • ask Mark about QC and cost/benefit for page highlighter/keyword


list of published soil surveys - print copy in A&I (online now)

  • National Res. Conserv. Serv.
    • didn't always scan each year for each area
    • need to contact them about "online," Y/N
  • monthly catalog to identify call #'s


M (???) - ss maps for TX Dept. Transportation (subcontractor) - lab

UNT = scanned at higher resolution


TX Albany - wanted photos (???)

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