NEW! Place Collections

Teaching with World Historical Gazetteer

Place names—their origins, change over time, and reflections of identity—can provide a fascinating and revealing lens through which to explore history. Used with the interactive tools of digital history, the study of place names brings new, deeper, and broader connections to our understanding of patterns of historical change.

Place in World History

Ruth Mostern WHG Project Director

Most of us use the word place without thinking too much about what it means, but for historians, place can be a powerful concept. According to the geographer John Agnew, when we say that something is a place, we are invoking three ideas. First, we are talking about something that has a location. A place exists somewhere on the surface of the earth. Second, we mean that it has a locale. A place is a location that is a setting for social relations. Third, we are referring to a sense of place, which means that some people have had experiences that they associate with that location. In other words, a place is a location in which memorable events have transpired. more...