Attention historical geographers: a call for help!

By Juliana Adelman

I recently noticed another history blogger experimenting with crowdsourcing advice and feedback on a developing paper.  I think this a great idea and hope to do it myself once my book chapters are a bit further on.  In the meantime, I am looking for a collaborator.  I am in the process of collecting a load of data about the locations of various animal businesses and industries around Dublin during the nineteenth century.  I would like to turn this data into some nice maps.  Now, I can draw dots on a scanned image of an old map using a free image editor and come up with some maps that are ok.  But I suspect that someone with GIS experience and some computer know-how would have a better idea.  The maps will be for a chapter in my book, to be published by the University of Virginia Press. I am offering co-authorship of the chapter to a geographer interested in collaborating and helping to produce the maps.  I suppose in this case I am supplying the data and the research questions and you are supplying the technical skills.  In the short term, it is a guaranteed publication.  In the long term, perhaps the beginning of a beautiful partnership?  Please contact adelmanj AT tcd DOT ie if you are interested.

9 Responses to “Attention historical geographers: a call for help!”

  1. Ronan Lyons (@ronanlyons) Says:

    Very interesting stuff. I’d love to help but I’m also very much the Junior Partner on geographical/GIS things. As suggested on Twitter, NUIM might be the best place to look.

    Ultimately, it would be great to see a series of Google maps for Dublin from the 1600s on, using the maps and RIA map collections that exist… (When I get my doctorate out of the way and finally start writing that 17th Century murder mystery set in Dublin, I’ll get the ball rolling!)

  2. lalonde (@lalonde) Says:

    You could look at TileMill ( to make maps. It’s a relatively simple way to make custom maps with custom data. Though you might then have to merge your image & (say) OpenStreetMap images together…

    It would be great to see old maps of Ireland available online. Even now, the ordnance survey’s 1840s maps of Ireland would be benefitial for OSM, since then we could add townland boundaries. Most places (e.g. OSi) claim copyright and won’t let one trace.

  3. puesoccurrences Says:

    Wow, already a few great suggestions through the site and through twitter! Thank you to all the real people behind cyberspace.

    @lalonde. I may just need to embark on learning a new programme. TileMill looks really interesting.

    @lalonde and ronanlyons, the lack of availability of digitized archival maps is very frustrating. The US CGS has a great site that I’ve highlighted in the past, but worth mentioning again:

    Thanks again,

  4. Eamonn Says:


    If you have x,y co-ordinates you can drag and drop your features onto a map in, it’s simple and best of all free!


  5. Felix Larkin Says:

    The place to go for help must be the Royal Irish Academy, with their Historic Town Atlas project under the general editorship of Anngret Simms and Howard Clarke.

  6. puesoccurrences Says:

    @Eamonn. Excuse the stupid question: how do I get x,y co-ordinates? What I have is tables of data that lists types of businesses with their street addresses. And a high resolution scan of an old map. So I guess what I would want to do is turn my addresses in to x,y co-ordinates. Hmmm.


  7. puesoccurrences Says:

    PS I’ve just hit upon this site in looking up ‘Historical GIS’ (which is, it appears, what I want to do):

    It’s got historical GIS maps (see ‘Statistical Atlas’) but also loads of other interesting stuff, including some straight up OS maps through time and a collection of travel writing. It’s pretty cool.


  8. Tina Says:

    I wish I could help, Juliana, but I’m afraid my technical know-how on this is non-existent. One person who might be able to help though is Charles Travis in the Long Room Hub:


  9. Jennifer R-L Says:

    I’m in the same position as you, Juliana, and I’m planning on take this course the next time it is offered:

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