AHA 2014: Getting Started in Digital History Spatial History & hGIS Breakout Session

This page contains getting-started resources for historians interested in the basics of spatial history and hGIS, and for historians attending the AHA’s Getting Started in Digital History workshop on Jan. 2, 2014.

The PPT slide deck for this session is available here. Many of the links are provided in the PPT Notes field.

Tutorials & Introductions

hGIS Examples

GIS Tools


(Free or very low cost, with low learning curves. Neogeography-oriented.


Cost varies; some technical expertise required.

  • Google Earth. Lots of pre-existing layers available for import. Allows easy polygon editing and georeferenced map overlay. Interface can be frustrating, slow, because of high overhead. Allows GPS import from smartphone.
  • Neatline. Allows easy overlay of georeferenced historical maps but interface (both for creation and browsing) can be confusing.
  • Open Street Map. Like Google maps, but more flexible layers
  • ArcGIS online. A simplified online version of ArcGIS with a 30-day trial. Costly but very flexible and with an easier interface than ArcGIS desktop software. Allows GPS import from smartphone.

Commercial software with high learning curve

KML, shapefile and Statistics Resources