Historical GIS

In the last few years research in the humanities and social sciences has taken on an increasingly interdisciplinary character with methods, tools and research techniques being adapted from other sciences. The growing tendency to apply the results and methods of the exact sciences in many of the social sciences, including history, organization and management studies as well as security studies, has provided a richer and more comprehensive overview of research in these areas. A particularly interesting example in this context is history, where there has been a gradual shift away from the traditional, largely qualitative treatment of research problems towards a more mixed approach that makes extensive use of quantitative methods and non-traditional research tools that offer new ways of interpreting available historical data.

One modern geoinformation tool that can be successfully applied to historical research is GIS (Geographic Information Systems). For over a dozen years now GIS has been employed in historical research in the United States, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, and Germany. It is likewise becoming increasingly popular in Poland, undoubtedly due to to the rapid development of information technology and the widespread digitalization of archival collections that has in progress since the beginning of the 21st century.

Geographic Information Systems enable the collection, processing, analysis and sharing of spatial information of an historical character. This tool makes it possible analyse and interpret archival geographical data and study their impact on historical events and processes. It is important to note that this approach to analysing historical space, conducted as it is on the basis of quantitative methods, broadens historical research through the inclusion of new aspects, infusing it with interdisciplinary value and enhancing its utility from a research perspective.