Introduction to Digital Humanities

RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

Infinite Knowledge Through Spacial History

This weeks readings were about the concept “Spacial History.” Most of you guys have probably used google maps to search a location and maybe have even used the neat street-view tool to explore the surroundings. Google maps is essentially a less developed form of “Spacial History” that Jenna  Hammerich and Zephyr Frank are explaining in the readings. With “Spacial History” technology, one would be able to look at a map and not only see just locations, but an immense amount of data that you would never even think of. Jenna Hammerich gives an example that a “Spacial History” map could answer the question,  “Would Robert E. Lee have been able to see Union forces on the far side of the battlefield when he ordered the notorious Pickett’s Charge?”

This is a link to the Stanford History Project website where a group of collaborators contribute their own projects of GIS for the world to see and other researchers to learn from. This link in particular will take you to a map titled “Salmon Flu Transmission in Salmon Aquaculture”. This map is an easy-to-understand  example of Spacial History. It shows not only a map, but many different graphs and statistics of the flu transmission between Chile and Norway.

This image below has pinpoints of where a certain community theater performed a particular play in Baltimore in 1980.



Overall, I believe Spacial History will is a powerful tool and we become an even more powerful tool in the future. There are so many endless possibilities and I am excited to see what people will continue to do with it. One thing that Jenna Hammerich touched on was that researchers can now create maps for past historical events and study them even more closely possibly coming up with new findings that we have never even thought of!


  1. I, for one, am a big user of Google Maps, especially the street-view option, so I can identify the surroundings of the location I want to go to. The project reminds me of the 3D recreation of Carthage that we viewed in class. Spacial History allows us to research how we inhibit space and what effects it has. Without Spacial History, we would have so little graphic understanding of locations. Not only is it effective, but it also has a lot of potential in the future.

  2. I think that one of the biggest advantages of showing and exploring special history like this using maps or GIS software is the collaboration aspect. As Jenna Hammerich touched on in her article, essentially many different people can contribute information or data to a single project due to the online nature of GIS software. Rather than a singular person taking years to compile and disseminate the various sources of information they want to use to create this project, you can have tens or even hundreds of people contributing, depending on the nature of the project. What you then have, is essentially a crowd-sourced project which, instead of taking years, can be finished in much less time, with likely better results.

    Your last point is very interesting to me, as I can think of many uses of creating maps of historical events to better understand the trends and why certain events happened when and where they did. For example, to use a common theme in this class, if a project used this to map out the spread of Christianity in the Roman empire, it would be interesting to see how the different locations of public persecution of Christians reacted. Did areas with a high degree of executions have a faster adoption of Christianity, or did they have a slower rate of adoption? This technology is definitely something interesting to think about in terms of what it can allow us to learn.

  3. I can really relate to this because I too am a fluent user of google maps. I tend to use google maps to check out an area before I visit/travel there. For example, I had never been to San Diego before, so when I went, I google(d) the address to the hotel we were staying at, and then used google maps to see what surrounded the hotel: food eateries, shopping, things to do for fun, historical monuments, etc.

    I also really like your relation to Jenna Hammerich’s “GIS”. Like “Kyle C.” stated in the above comment, we can be more efficient if more people contribute small forms of information, as opposed to only a few people contributing more information

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *