Historical Scholarship and GIS

Putting History on the Map

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post regarding history as a supposedly book-based discipline. While reading David J. Bodenhamer’s “History and GIS: Implications for the Discipline” in Anne Kelly Knowles’s Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship, I was again confronted with this concept. Historians tend to work with words. Images and maps are typically secondary in the field. However, maps and GIS data obviously have a lot to offer historians. The issue is, how do we introduce historians to using GIS data for their histories? As Bodenhamer stated, “mastering spatial methods and software is, in effect, learning another discipline, another way of thinking. It also means developing expertise in a complicated technology that is continually evolving.” (228) One method is classes like the one we are currently enrolled in. If we can get historians to not fear technology and to step out…

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