Collections in World Historical Gazetteer

Registered users can create two types of collections in WHG, each intended to support a particular set of use cases. Place Collections (new in v2.1), are initially intended for teaching applications particularly. Dataset Collections are already enabling development of "focus regions" within WHG. Collections are an important feature in WHG, and the implemention of examples demonstrating their use and value has only just begun.

Place Collections

We have been partnering with the Asian Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) to develop features in WHG to support teaching with the platform. Initially this produced lesson plans for using WHG collections in classrooms. Most recently, the ASC One use scenarion considered has Place Collection feature. One use scenarion considered has students being assigned to individually or collaboratively gather a set of records for places that are connected in some way, as assigned by their instructor or initiated by them.

More generally, Place Collections are a data publication venue that can be used by students and scholars at any level.
Please see further details, and step-by-step guide for creating a Place Collections.

Dataset Collections

Creators of gazetteers for a particular region and period are increasingly interested in linking their data with projects that have overlapping spatial and/or temporal coverage. Loosely joining datasets in the WHG platform can potentially generate rich "focus regions," within the platform, effectively combining the efforts of numerous specialized projects.

For example, the Humanities Cluster of the Royal Dutch Academies (KNAW HuC) has begun developing the "Dutch History" collection, which will ultimately link a few dozen datasets of settlements and administrative areas in historically Dutch territories around the globe.

Preliminary discussion have begin on several similar efforts, including for Colonial and pre-Colonial Latin America (LatAm), the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, Central Eurasia, Early Modern Europe, and the geography of the Atlantic slave trade.

Dataset Collections can also be used to link datasets from a single contributor, as Werner Stangl has done with two datasets from his HGIS de las Indias project WHG collection]; [project site]. One dataset contains around 13,000 settlements (lugares), the other around 900 political and religious administrative areas (territorios) they lay within— with their 3,000+ spatial extents that changed over time.

Supporting historical geocoding

A common use case in historical research is the geocoding (geo-referencing) of textual or tabular source material—finding actual or estimated locations for referenced places in order to map them and perhaps to use spatial analysis to understand their meaning and relevance to the phenomena in question. Such source corpora often reference particular regions in particular periods, and effective geo-referencing will benefit greatly by a gazetteer resource for that region/period combination. Collections in WHG provide a platform for multiple projects to assemble (link) the specialist gazetteer datasets they develop. Such a union of related and overlapping datasets can become an important resource for anyone working in a given region. We anticipate for example that a future LatAm collection will grow over time from numerous specialized contributions, seeded by the HGIS de las Indias datasets/collection.