Geographic Information Systems and GIS software have become increasingly powerful tools for studying cities, geography, politics, even urban history and space more generally. However, outside of a few major institutional efforts, historical GIS resources are in short supply and can be labor-intensive to create (notable efforts include the Minnesota Population Center’s NHGIS.org and Brown’s Urban Transition Project).
In order to remedy this, I am creating a collaborative working group and a pilot project for the creation of historical GIS resources. My intention is to pursue a distributed model of resource creation, in some ways crowdsourcing the digitization of archival geographic information.
As an example, one of my first efforts is to push back the available Congressional elections information beyond the horizon of 1992, as seen in Voting America, for example. I will provide the shapefiles for Virginia’s Congressional Districts in the 90th to 97th Congresses here (zip files):
I am seeking scholarly or institutional collaborators who are interested in joining the working group and identifying projects (I am especially interested in historic census data, urban politics, and the U.S. Congress), and cultivating funding sources to ramp up to a phased project with academic and public outreach. If you are interested, please contact me at lwinling[AT]gmail.com.