Digital Mapping for Humanists: A Cookbook

Open-access, step-by-step "recipes" containing instructions for making digital mapping tools work better for the goals of humanistic scholarship and teaching.


Maps, mapping, and spatial understanding are central to many current projects in the humanities. Too often, however, the tools and approaches that facilitate spatial knowledge are limited to GIS and data analysis most useful to scientists and social scientists. Humanities researchers and teachers bring a range of other concerns to spatial data: to work smoothly with historical maps from other spatial traditions, to work in languages other than English, to incorporate a range of media, and to represent ambiguity just to name a few issues.

This open-access, collaboratively authored "cookbook" is dedicated to helping spatially-minded humanities scholars produce maximal research insight, pedagogical utility and suitability for public outreach.

What is a mapping "cookbook"?

Culinary cookbooks offer recipes for making specific dishes. A tech or programming "cookbook" contains "recipes" to make specific things on the computer. A cookbook differs from a reference manual or tutorial documentation in that it doesn't attempt to cover all aspects of the topic, detail all the tools, or teach you the basics from the ground up. Rather, it contains "recipes" to teach you just those ingredients and steps necessary to perform a specific task.
This mapping cookbook, created for a workshop on Fostering Humanistic Tools for Digital Mapping funded by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, contains recipes for adapting existing digital mapping tools to better meet the needs of humanistic scholars. Participants share proven methods of navigating obstacles within existing mapping tools to produce effective humanities-based digital maps.

How to Use this Site

There are a number of ways you can use and contribute to this site:
  • Read the Instructions and Examples recipes for thinking through how to get started
  • Use our recipes to make your maps better!
    • Browse complete recipes in the table of contents, or
    • Search for keywords using the search bar top right
  • Contribute to the project and share your tips by
Last modified 2yr ago