Map of England and Wales – Georeferenced

For this assignment, I georeferenced an index map of the ordnance survey of England and Wales on the scale of four miles to the inch. The map was depicted in 1901 and published in 1902. Here is a link to my georeferenced map.

Georeferenced index map of England and Wales. Map was depicted in 1901 and published in 1902.

Going into this assignment, I didn’t have much of an idea as to how spatial DH projects contribute to academia. Working with the David Rumsey Map Collection shine light on the value of this technology. Being able to align archived maps with the reference world map is a powerful tool that enables us to infer details associated with the community that produced the map. For example, if a map from 1901 contained interesting labels for a region that aligns with the state of California, we would have reason to believe that the makers of the map, and likely their community, referred to this region by an unfamiliar pseudo name.

When I navigate tot the This Map page, I can access the map using ArcGIS, QGIS, WMTS, TileJSON, XYZ, GeoTIFF, and the David Rumsey Map Collection website itself. Georectified maps enable researchers to gain information on the presumptions of those involved in creating the map. Once some information is identified- in the previous example, we learned that the makes of the map referred to a particular region by another name- the next step is to find additional resources- perhaps other maps or written documents- that corroborate the finding. This order of action can also be used in reverse order- a georectified map can be used to corroborate findings from another primary source. 

One thing to consider with these georectified maps is that it is hard to verify the sources of such documents, especially with those that are older. Maps have been produced with varying levels of knowledge of the geography and thus have varying levels of accuracy. Also, the motivations of the map makers are difficult to identify and could lead to bias in the figures. Thus, I don’t think it is appropriate to draw conclusions from the contents of a georectified map by itself- it is vital that there is corroboration from another source.

The concept of matching archived maps to a reference map reminded me of a similar application widely used in biology research- genome referencing. Scientists have applied this concept to align sequenced genomes to a reference genome to identify irregularities in the genome. If President Biden hopes to relaunch a successful effort to end cancer through his Cancer Moonshot plan, studies involving genome referencing will play a leading role.


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