Technology allows innovative mapping of Harrisburg cemetery - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin County

Technology allows innovative mapping of Harrisburg cemetery

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg is taking a new approach to preserving the history of the centuries-old Mount Calvary Cemetery in Allison Hill.

The diocese has allowed the National Park Service and the Land Logistics Group of Camp Hill to map the cemetery through laser and global positioning satellite technology.

Sally Holbert, President of Land Logics Group, said the technology could make genealogy and record-keeping a snap.

"I can click on any of these cemetery sections and information associated with that cemetery block pops up," she said.

Holbert has been using the digital laser mapping process for years in her work as a landscape architect and thought it could be useful to the diocese.

"We had started working the Catholic diocese a few years ago, just talking to them about the idea of using geographic information systems, or GIS, to protect and manage their burial records," she said.

Holbert will work with existing burial records to create a database of all the graves, and will do research on certain monuments of particular interest in the cemetery to pass along more history to the National Park Service.

Ed Scholly, the cemetery manager for the diocese, said he can't wait for the system to be updated.

"Sometimes for this cemetery, I'm lucky if I have a little index card with the name of a burial and maybe the lot, like A22," Scholly said. "Now, A22 could have 20 graves in it, and I don't know exactly where they are."

Lyle Shughart, Chief Operating Officer for the diocese, said the project will make the cemetery more accessible to the public.

"We want to make sure that people can find what they are looking for when they come to these cemeteries, whether it be a family member or who knows, their Uncle George," Shughart said. "This will help direct you to the right place."

Once the database is compiled, it will be passed on to the Library of Congress, where it will be saved for future generations.

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