Data/Visualizing the Past

Mapping History

You may read the: Which came first, the Chicken or th Egg article, and think: ‘what does it matter?’ – I certainly did.

In the end, it was impressive how Morris came up (with hopefully) a final answer to which photo was taken first. You have to admire his perseverance. While I might still not get the full point of why it really does matter, it does show a great example of how to do historical research in a different way, using technology.

The other sources for this week, are also great examples of how to do historical research in a different way. Especially with Georeferencer it is very easy to use and you can tell your story in a more engaging way. It will be especially useful for immigration studies, because you can just with one click , show your audience the immigration routes relevant to your research.

Furthermore, I think making maps using GIS or arcGIS is very relevant for the history field. A friend of mine, is studying Urban History and she can show me with one map how the Jewish population changed over time in Amsterdam, using these programs. You can color-coordinate it, with dark red being a lot of Jews, and the more orange/yellow the color, the fewer Jews. This also speaks more to your imagination, than to just read numbers and percentages.

The only doubt I have about using mapping and software in the history field is, that it is not very common. At least in the Universities in the Netherlands they do not use it, nor do they teach it. (With the exception of Urban History). And I am not sure if this is going to change soon, and if teachers and students are willing to change the history field.