Day Two – Mapping Historical Data with QGIS
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – can do much more than simply create maps as illustrations. GIS is being used in a variety of contexts to make sense of information with a spatial component, be it at the level of buildings and streets or at the level of nations, and to perform sophisticated geospatial and topographical analyses. Historians approaching their work with geographical research questions in mind not only have to come to terms with the cartographical and technical learning curves that come with the use of GIS, but they also have to address the added complication of changing geographical units (both administrative boundaries and physical topography) over time. Fortunately, these complexities can be overcome, turning GIS into an extremely powerful research tool
This workshop introduces the key concepts and the practicalities of mapping historical information using GIS software. It will focus on a number of areas:
- The notion of GIS as a database – where data is graphical as well as alphanumeric – rather than as ‘map-drawing tool’
- Different types of geographical and historical data (vector, raster, polygon, point, tabular), and the various approaches to combining them to answer research questions
- Sources of existing geographical datasets (both current and historical) to help you begin mapping your own data quickly
- The preparation of historical data for use with a GIS (geo-coding and geo-referencing)
The workshop will focus on hands-on practical sessions using QGIS software to view and manipulate historical data, and will provide the opportunity for generating (and analysing) the kinds of thematic mapping that are the product of this research tool.
Day One is not a pre-requisite, but participants should be familiar with concepts such as projection, coordinate systems, and layers. Confidence with spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel is essential and familiarity with relational databases such as Microsoft Access would also be beneficial. No previous experience of using GIS software is necessary.