GIS integrates computer hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and presenting all forms of geographically-referenced information. With its capacity to allow researchers to display, organize, and interpret the geographic aspects of the data they study, and to reveal geospatial relationships and patterns within this data, GIS has natural applications for historical studies. Since the 1990s, its use in historical research has stimulated the growing sub-field of Historical GIS (HGIS). Over the last twenty years, a few countries have created national HGIS systems linking administrative boundaries with census and other data. Recently, historians have used HGIS to display and analyze geographic data at the local and regional level, and to display the geographic characteristics of qualitative sources.
The aim of this collection is to represent the “state of the discipline” of HGIS in Canada. In the space of ten to twelve chapters, this book will bring together case studies of HGIS projects from Canada’s diverse regions. Projects will include studies in historical geography, social and cultural history, and environmental history. Throughout the collection, contributors will combine reflections on methodology and process with discussions of research findings, and the role of HGIS in facilitating the organization, interpretation and presentation of their results. Chapters will fall into three sections, tentatively titled: 1) Data and Method, 2) HGIS and the Environment, and 3) HGIS and Social History.
A pre-publication workshop held at the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library April 23, 2011 brought contributors together to review and discuss draft chapters, and the shape of the collection as a whole. In the fall of 2011, we will use this workshop webpage to host images and short analyses related to the workshop papers.
The following list of draft chapter titles demonstrates the diversity of themes, approaches, and topics in historical inquiry covered by this collection.
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