Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an increasingly valuable technology for managing and analyzing multiple forms of geographic data. Researchers in the natural and social sciences were among the earliest groups to adopt GIS for the visualization, analysis, and mapping of biological, geological, political, and sociological phenomena. As the science and technology supporting GIS have improved, the tool has become more commonly used for research in a wide array of fields and has gained broad acceptance for commercial, governmental, and educational applications. Yet GIS remains a neglected tool within the humanities. Innovative scholars have only recently begun to probe the potential for GIS to contribute to scholarship in fields such as history and literature. In concert with the emergence of digital humanities research, historians and geographers are collaborating to pursue scholarship that has come to be known as spatial history. Among the pioneers in this field, Richard White, past director of the Spatial History Project at Stanford University, has explained that spatial history is a means of doing research; it generates questions that might otherwise go unasked, it reveals historical relations that might otherwise go unnoticed, and it undermines, or substantiates, stories upon which we build our own versions of the past. Thus, spatial history can be characterized as a scholarly methodology that is innovative, nascent, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and iterative.


The proposed project will establish a Spatial History Research Collaborative (SHReC) at UT Arlington that will accomplish three goals. First, SHReC will enhance faculty research capacity. Collaborative members will complete GIS training and will apply this knowledge toward the conceptualization and advancement of current research projects with the technical assistance of a skilled graduate assistant. Second, SHReC will serve as a proof-of-concept for future grant proposals. Faculty will gain experience in the design and management of spatial history projects and will generate preliminary research results. Both of these outcomes will be leveraged for future external funding proposals. Third, SHReC will build research infrastructure in the College of Liberal Arts that can be scaled to incorporate other disciplines and additional faculty members.

“Spatial Analysis of Early 19th Century Science Travel Literature” to be presented at the Social Science History Association conference in Chicago, IL, in November 2016

John Garrigus will present The Spatial History of a Slave Poisoning Plot: Recreating the Macandal Conspiracy of 1757 at the Social Sciences History Association Conference in November 2016.

Principal Investigator: Andrew Milson, Professor, History

Co-Investigator: Kathryne Beebe, Assistant Professor, Medieval History

Co-Investigator: Patryk Babiracki, Associate Professor, History

Co-Investigator: Imre Demhardt, Professor, History

Co-Investigator: John Garrigus, Associate Professor, History