Maps and Plans Sample Database Manual: Indexing Maps and Plans with Using a Microsoft Access Database

Retain a “Read Only” copy of the sample database on CD or on your computer or network. To begin using the database, copy the file using a new file name.

Download the sample maps database (Access file .mdb)


Contact the Publications Office at if you need a copy of the manual and Access file on CD.

The New York State Archives does not recommend what software you should use for any project, neither does it require you to use any software. However, the Archives has developed a few sample applications using Microsoft’s Access 2000 database management system. One of these applications is a simple database structure for indexing maps and plans. The reason the Archives uses Access for this sample is twofold:

  1. Access is the database program used by the State Education Department (of which the Archives is a part);
  2. and Access is a common, inexpensive database program used by many local governments and state agencies.

The Archives does not, however, recommend that you use this program or the sample data structure; we only provide it in case it is of use to you. You can set up similar database structures using other database management software.

Using the Sample Maps Database

Please note that the State Archives is not equipped to provide detailed advice on how to use Access, so if you need training in how to use this software you should find a local vendor that provides training. The sample data in the database is useful to let you see how entries appear in this database, but you should delete the data before you begin to enter your own data. Or use Windows Explorer to make a copy of this database, so you have one to refer to and one to enter data into.

Explaining the Parts of the Database

The database contains different types of Access database objects:


A table is used to store, organize, and view data related to your index. Microsoft developers generally recommend that you do not enter or edit data using tables. The only table in this database is the “Map Data” table, which contains all the information you will maintain to index your maps and plans.


A query is a question that you ask about the data in your table. Queries allow you to search for and segregate information for viewing or reporting. This database does not include any queries.


A form is used to view data in a database, enter new data into the database, or edit database records. This database contains two forms:

  1. "Map Data Browse Form,” which allows you to view, enter, or edit your data in a horizontal format. Using the browse form allows you to see several entries at the same time. This form appears essentially the same as the “Map Data” table.
  2. “Map Data Entry Form,” also allows you to view, enter, and edit data. Each “page” of this form shows one database record or the information about one map or plan.
    Report A report is used to show and print selected information from a table in a customized manner.


You will probably want to add more reports for your purposes, but this database includes only one:

  1. “Map Data by Department” is a report which arranges all entries alphabetically by
    department and then alphabetically by the title of the map.

Map Data Fields

Though you may not need all of them, here are the fields in the sample database:

  • ID: A unique sequential system-designated number.

  • Map Number: A unique number assigned to individual maps or plans.

  • Map Title: The title of the map or plan.

  • Dept/Type: This identifies the department or office that created or received the map or plan (such as “W/S” for “Water/Sewer”), or the general type of map or plan (such as “Town Proj” for “Town Projects”).

  • Date: The exact date of the map or plan.

  • Size: The size of the map or plan. The sample database uses standard engineering drawing sizes (A, B, C, etc.), but you can use measurements in inches if you wish.

  • Location: The storage location of the map or plan.

  • Professional: The professional contractor (architect, engineer, cartographer) or firm that created the map or plan.

  • Sheets: The number of sheets in a single document. (A single plan may have many sheets, but it is still a single document.)

  • Copies: The number of available copies of this map or plan.

  • Information: A memo field to store any other pertinent information.

Getting Started

To begin using this database, all you need to do is open the Map Data Entry Form and enter the appropriate information in each field for each map or plan you are indexing. If you have any questions about what data to enter or how this database can help you, please contact your State Archives Regional Advisory Officer.

Back to the Maps workshop handouts page