AHA 2014: Getting Started in Digital History Spatial History & hGIS Breakout Session

This page contains getting-started resources for historians interested in the basics of spatial history and hGIS, and for historians attending the AHA’s Getting Started in Digital History workshop on Jan. 2, 2014.

The PPT slide deck for this session is available here. Many of the links are provided in the PPT Notes field.

Tutorials & Introductions

hGIS Examples

GIS Tools


        Free or very low cost, with low learning curves. Neogeography-oriented.

      • Google Maps and Google Map Engine
          This combines some of the powerful layering that higher-end tools are famous for with an easy search-drag-drop tool for adding new points to a map.
      • Google Maps and Google Fusion Tables
            These tutorials from

        Jack Dougherty

            (Trinity College) demonstrate placing

        individual points


        outlined shapes

          on a Google-generated map


        Cost varies; some technical expertise required.

      • Google Earth
          Lots of pre-existing layers available for import. Allows easy polygon editing and georeferenced map overlay. Interface can be frustrating, slow, because of high overhead. Allows GPS import from smartphone.
      • Neatline
          Allows easy overlay of georeferenced historical maps but interface (both for creation and browsing) can be confusing.
      • Open Street Map
          Like Google maps, but more flexible layers
      • ArcGIS online
          A simplified online version of ArcGIS with a 30-day trial. Costly but very flexible and with an easier interface than ArcGIS desktop software. Allows GPS import from smartphone.


KML, shapefile and Statistics Resources

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