Module 3: Historical GIS

Module 3 is intended to introduce you to basic concepts in historical GIS and spatial history. The readings and discussion will prompt you to think about the implications of (re)situating our understanding of historical events in space, as well as time. The technical activities will provide you with a crash course in QGIS and the optional links will provide you with much more information on QGIS if you’re interested in learning more about it for your final project or research.


1. read Ian Gregory and Paul Ell, “GIS and its role in historical research: an introduction” and “Using GIS to visualise historical data,” in Historical GIS: Technologies, Methodologies and Scholarship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), on Basecamp

2. read Loren Siebert, “Using GIS to Document, Visualize, and Interpret Tokyo’s Spatial History,” Social Science History 24, no. 3 (2000):537-574.

3. read Daniele Salvoldi, “A Historical Geographical Information System (HGIS) of Nubia Based on the William J. Bankes Archive (1815-1822),” DHQ 11.2 (2017).

4. read Susan Grunewald, “Beyond the Archives: What GIS Mapping Reveals about German POWs in Soviet Russia,” Perspectives on History, February 26, 2019.

5. explore Anne Kelly Knowles, “A Cutting Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg,” as well as Mapping Inequality, Orbis, and the Pleiades gazetteer

6. participate in the Slack discussion

Technical Activities

1. download/install QGIS and complete the QGIS tutorial; use the sample data provided on Basecamp

2. OPTIONAL: look at the five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Programming Historian tutorials on GIS and QGIS