Digitizing and Sharing Historical Atlas Content

Authors: Aileen Buckley*, Esri
Topics: Cartography, Regional Geography, Communication
Keywords: atlas, historical, ArcGIS, web, online, apps
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Atlases have traditionally been printed and published in bound volumes, but recent advancements in mapping technologies have resulted in many of the newer atlases being released in digital form, often on the web. Nonetheless, more atlases are available in paper form than not, and printed atlases are often difficult for large numbers of readers to find, access, and use. As a result, this rich source of information often sits untapped in library map drawers, inaccessible stores of map publishers, underutilized archives in museums, and even unknown private collections. The content in these atlases could prove invaluable in providing unique views into the past for a broad range of users, including scientists, researchers, historians, and general map users who are looking for a snapshot of the atlas area or subject at a specific time or to explore a trend over time. Converting paper atlases to digital form is more complicated than simply scanning the pages and posting them as images on the web. An atlas is a compendium of information about an area. Thus, the page images must be carefully organized for presentation to the readers. This is complicated when the geographic areas on the pages are contiguous, overlap, or are widely separated and when ancillary content is also important. Using four case studies, I demonstrate workflows for different types of historic atlases and map collections to provide guidance on use of the ArcGIS platform to digitize and share printed map content in a digital format through online apps.

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