Skip to main content

Digital Mapping

Resource guide for students and faculty interested in using GIS technology for digital projects using historical or current data

Historical Projects & GIS

GIS technology can assist scholars in historical disciplines understand geographical phenomena and alo generate new research questions. Differently from projects that employ present-day data, studies that involve historical GIS might struggle with lack of data available online or already digitized. Often, scholars have to extract their data from published sources and digitize the material themselves. Below is more information on developing historical GIS projects.

Step 1: Acquiring Historical Data

Methods for acquiring historical data vary according to research topic, but most common ones are:

  • Books
  • Journal articles
  • Online datasets

Step 2: Organizing Historical Data

As you collect your data, it is important to organize and save your materials in a stable platform, such as Microsoft Excel or a similar software. Regardless of the software you choose, make sure your data format is compatible with the platform you are using.

Step 3: Georeferencing Historical Data

After you have collected your data, you will need to find accurate geographical coordinates for the locations you are studying. While that can be easily found if you are analyzing present-day information, working with historical sites (some of which do not exist anymore or have changed names) can be challenging. Here are some helpful resources:

Additional Resources

Further Reading