Historical geographic information system
A historical geographic information system (also written as historical GIS or HGIS) is a geographic information system that may display, store and analyze data of past geographies and track changes in time. It can be regarded as a subfield of historical geography and geographic information science.
GIS was originally developed for use in environmental sciences, military and for computer assisted cartography. It is the opinion of some that the tools developed for these uses are ill-suited for the features of historical data.
Techniques used in HGISEdit
- Digitization and georeferencing of historical maps. Old maps may contain valuable information about the past. By adding coordinates to such maps, they may be added as a feature layer to modern GIS data. This facilitates comparison of different map layers showing the geography at different times. The maps may be further enhanced by techniques such as rubbersheeting, which spatially warps the data to fit with more accurate modern maps.
- Reconstruction of past boundaries. By creating polygons of former administrative sub-divisions and borders, aggregate statistics can be compared through time.
- Georeferencing of historical microdata (such as census or parish records). This enables the use of spatial analysis to historical data.
Notable Historical GIS projectsEdit
- Great Britain Historical GIS, A GIS enabled database holding diverse geo-referenced maps, statistics, gazetteers and travel writing, especially for the period 1801-2001 covered by British censuses. Public access via the Vision of Britain site. Created and maintained by Portsmouth University.
- Historical GIS.com, several historical GIS projects including the Copper Country Historical Spatial Data Infrastructure (aka, Keweenaw Time Traveler), the Imagining London (Ontario) HGIS Project, and several others. Hosted by the Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab at Michigan Tech University
- China Historical GIS similar project for Imperial China developed by the universities of Harvard and Fudan, China.
- David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, one of the world's largest map collections, which has digitized and georeferenced a large part of its collection and published it on the internet.
- Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI) a clearinghouse for the exchange of metadata of Historical GIS. Maintained by the University of California, Berkeley.
- HGIS Germany Institute of European History (Mainz) and Institute i3mainz at the University of Applied Sciences 
- HisGIS Netherlands includes vectorized real estate boundaries of the oldest cadastral maps of several regions of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, which have been linked to historical registers such as election, tax revenue and parish registers. Developed by the Fryske Akademy
- Belgian Historical GIS tracks the development of administrative boundaries in Belgium since 1800. Developed by the University of Ghent
- Historical Atlas of the Low Countries 1350-1800 parish and local administrative-judicial boundaries of the pre-modern Low Countries (Northern France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Western Germany). Developed at the International Institute of Social History
- The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) system for displaying and analyzing Census tracts and tract changes in the United States.
- Atlas Digital da América Lusa, Interactive gazetteer-type atlas on colonial Brazil, maintained by University of Brasília, focussing on populated places.
- HGIS de las Indias, spatial data infrastructure with a WebGIS, focussing on Spanish America (1701-1808) featuring administrative and church boundaries and changes, a gazetteer, demographic data, post routes etc. Maintained by University of Graz, Austria.
- ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network of the Roman World, GIS focussed on network-analysis of Roman roads and rivers, calculating travel times. Maintained by University of Stanford.
- HistoAtlas is an open historical geographical information system that tries to build a free historical atlas of the world.
- Atlas-Historical Cartography This website provides information on the evolution of administrative boundaries of Portugal, and on censuses and other statistical series for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Public access via the Atlas-Historical Cartography.
- Mammoth Cave Historical GIS documents the people who lived in the Mammoth Cave region before it became a national park. Public access via MCHGIS.
- Bibliosof-HGIS Russian National Historical Geographic Information System .
- Wikimaps project that will integrate georeferences maps on Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata and Wikipedia
- OldMapsOnline Historical maps search engine. Provide access to georeferenced digitized historical maps from various collections through a map-based interface.
- The CENTENNIA Historical Atlas Historical atlas of Europe from year 1000 to present days showing the political status at intervals of tenth of years. The map are however unprecise and coarse-grained. The atlas is sold as a software for windows or MacOsx. 
- The Geacron project World historical atlas from 3000 BC to present days showing states and some events. A free online version is available.
- Euratlas History Maps Historical atlas of Europe from year 1 to present days with one map per century. The maps depict sovereign states as well as administrative divisions and dependent territories. 
- DECM project - Digging into Early Colonial Mexico
- Running Reality – See any day in history from 3000BC to today, including changing national borders, battles, etc.
Software or web services developed for Historical GISEdit
- Ian N. Gregory, Don Debats, Don Lafreniere eds.: The Routledge Companion to Spatial History. Routledge 2018 ISBN 9781138860148
- Joachim Laczny: Friedrich III. (1440–1493) auf Reisen. Die Erstellung des Itinerars eines spätmittelalterlichen Herrschers unter Anwendung eines Historical Geographic Information System (Historical GIS) In: Joachim Laczny, Jürgen Sarnowsky eds.: Perzeption und Rezeption. Wahrnehmung und Deutung im Mittelalter und in der Moderne (Nova Mediaevalia Quellen und Studien zum europäischen Mittelalter, 12), Göttingen: V&R unipress 2014, p. 33–65. ISBN 978-3-8471-0248-9, doi:10.14220/9783737002486.33
- Ian N. Gregory, Paul Ell: Historical GIS: Technologies, Methodologies, and Scholarship (Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography) 2008 ISBN 978-0-521-67170-5
- Anne Kelly Knowles: Past Time, Past Place: GIS for history A collection of twelve case studies on the use of GIS in historical research and education. ESRI press 2002 ISBN 1-58948-032-5
- Anne Kelly Knowles, Amy Hillier eds.: Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship 2008 ISBN 978-1-58948-013-1
- Ian N. Gregory: A place in History A short introduction to HGIS by the lead developers of GBHGIS ISSN 1463-5194
- Ott, T. and Swiaczny, F.: Time-integrative GIS. Management and analysis of spatio-temporal data, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York: Springer 2001 ISBN 3-540-41016-3
- Feature edition of Historical development GIS in the journal Social Science History 24 2000, Introduction by Anne Kelly Knowles.
- HGIS Germany (in German)
- Web site for the HisGIS Netherlands
- Web site for the Belgian Historical GIS Archived 2007-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
- Web site for the Historical Atlas of the Low Countries
- Atlas Digital da América Lusa
- HGIS de las Indias
- Web site for OldMapsOnline
- Web site for Centennia
- Web site for Geacron
- Web site for Euratlas
- "DECM project". Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Project homepage". Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
- Announcement of the feature at the Google Earth blog
- The Historical GIS Research Network
- Joachim Laczny: The late medieval ruler Frederick III (1440–1493) on the journey. The creation of the itinerary using a Historical Geographic Information System (Historical GIS)
- History-GIS Mailing List
- Historical Geographic Information Systems Online Forum on Google
- Geohistory - Historical GIS (in Polish)
- Atlas-Historical Cartography (in Portuguese) - Atlas-Historical Cartography (in English)
- Videos of presentations (January 16, 2013) - Historical GIS for reconstructing the past