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GIS and Digital History Projects


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An introduction to the use of GIS in digital history efforts with an explanation of several related Azavea projects.

An introduction to the use of GIS in digital history efforts with an explanation of several related Azavea projects.

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  • 1. GIS and Digital History September 14, 2010 340 N 12th St, Suite 402 Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.925.2600
  • 2. About Azavea • Founded in 2000 • 25 people • Based in Philadelphia – Boston satellite office • Geospatial + web • Software design & development • Spatial analysis services
  • 3. How Can GIS Help? • Draw on the public’s strong connection to location • Connect the past to the present • Bring together multiple collections • Assist with making new connections • Provide access via mobile based technologies • Possibly generate revenue
  • 4. Related Projects • • Mapping DuBois • AfricaMap – Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis • Mural Arts Program –
  • 5. • ( – Historic photo archive – Mobile web app – Augmented reality app (Winter 2011)
  • 6. Each of these images is intimately tied to a location.
  • 7. Providing a historical record - not just of a time or an event - but also of the place where the photo was taken.
  • 8. Google Street View 1911 2009
  • 9. Mobile Access • Geographic searches • Location aware • An iPhone web app also accessible via Android • No administrative functions • Brings collections out of the institution •
  • 10. Using Augmented Reality to Connect the Past and the Present • Data or images appear on your smart phone and tell you more about the physical structure or environment you are viewing • Build for iPhone and Google Android • Engage students in the study of history, architecture, and photography • Overlays of 500 historic photographs of locations around the city • Additional contextual Students and pretzel vendor at West Philadelphia High School, 1934. information for 20 images
  • 11. Mapping the DuBois Philadelphia Negro • Uses data gathered in 1896 by W.E.B. DuBois as part of a survey of Philadelphia’s 7th Ward • Data transformed into dynamic map layers • Students and other public users can use the GIS to explore and analyze the data A historic W.E.B DuBois map (c. 1896) mapping data on African-Americans living in Philadelphia’s 7th ward.
  • 12. AfricaMap • Developed with Harvard University, Center for Geographic Analysis • A web application that provides search and display for maps and data from various sources • Creates new opportunities for making cross disciplinary connections
  • 13. • Muralfarm ( – City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program – Mobile survey tool to update database & collect field data – Powered by Sajara, the same digital asset management software behind
  • 14. Challenges • Geographic information may not be tracked for each asset • Addresses and street plans may have changed over time • Location associated with an asset may be unknown or disputable • Location based projects garner much public interest, requiring staff time for responses
  • 15. Benefits • Geographic information can be used for other projects • Attract public attention to your collections • Introduce collections to new audiences • Take advantage of location based mobile technology • Possibly generate revenue
  • 16. Questions? Deborah Boyer Project Manager Twitter: @debsting