MoDOT’s Historic Preservation Specialists are responsible for evaluating MoDOT projects for their potential to impact important historic resources and ensuring that the projects comply with state, federal and organizational historic preservation guidelines. To this end, they provide historical context and archival documentation for proposed transportation projects. Such tasks may be performed at a variety of levels, from the initial, scoping phase of a project to the final mitigation of a project’s effects upon historic resources.
Historical background research may be performed during the project-scoping phase in order to better assess the potential for encountering historic resources within the boundaries of a proposed project. This level of research often entails a review of historical literature and archival sources pertaining to the proposed project area. Once the project area has been determined, the historian will often perform more in-depth context-level research in order to facilitate the interpretation of historical archaeological sites, architectural resources, or historic bridges that may be identified within a project’s boundaries. Research at this level will often include an intensive investigation of primary and secondary sources that relate to the broader historical trends and events that occurred within the project area. In some circumstances parcel-level research is needed in order to identify particular archeological or architectural resources that have been identified within a project’s boundaries. Examples of this type of research often include the review of old plat maps and land survey records, historic fire insurance maps, census data, city directory information, and other primary and secondary source materials that could shed light on the history and use of a property. The information will be compiled, interpreted and written as an historical narrative, which can be included in agency reports, environmental and historic preservation documentation.
Additionally, historic research is critical in the archival documentation of historic bridges that are adversely affected by MoDOT bridge improvement projects. The research that is conducted for historic bridges may also be used for Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) documentation. Archival documentation for historic bridges often includes research on the historical development of the highway where the bridge is located, and how the bridge fits into the history of the surrounding community. Information pertaining to the history of the particular style of bridge and the physical description of the bridge are also included in the bridge documentation.
Useful links for researchers:
Library of Congress
General Land Office Records--Historical land patents and surveys
The National Archives
U.S. Census Bureau
Historical Census Browser
Missouri State Archives
Missouri Digital Heritage
MoGenWeb -- Missouri genealogy
St. Louis Public Library: Maps of Missouri
Panoramic Maps Collection
Plat Books of Missouri
Sanborn Maps for Missouri
Unreal City: Historic St. Louis Maps
MoDOT's Missouri Highway Map Archive