Topics in Digital Mapping: Georectifying Maps and Using Map Warper, Meeting Report

In the third installment of our Topics in Digital Mapping Workshop Series, “Georectifying Maps and Using Map Warper,” David Wrisley demonstrated georectifying to participants, showing us how to code maps and other images onto digital coordinates. David offered many possibilities for why one might want to georectify a map, including:

  • Organization of a catalog by spatial metadata

  • Mining information from analog data

  • Definition of borders that aren’t political or topographical

  • Rethinking the relativity of spatial representations and coordinate systems from an intentionally warped image

  • Map deformance, a way of thinking through the relative spatiality of documents that resemble maps

  • Or just for a nifty background to one’s own map

David also introduced us to some of the tools for georectifying, including the data format Keyhole Markup Language (KML or KMZ) and OpenStreetMap, an open access, collaborative project by rebellious mappers who chart neighborhoods for the public. Workshop participants then practiced georectification with NYPL’s Map Warper, using an 1873 map of Painted Post, NY, found at

For a list of links from this workshop, please visit

Blog post by Heather Hill, MVST student at Fordham University

Topics in Digital Mapping: Timelines and Palladio Meeting Report

Digital map makers are often interested in animating the spatial visualization over time or linking their maps to a timeline.  This session provided participants with examples of animations and timelines using Neatline and GeoTemCo.  The workshop also covered data formats and how time and mapping can be combined in Palladio, a free, web-based visualization platform designed for the humanities. All of the information provided to participants is available in a google doc.

We opened with examples of animated map visualizations. Two of particular interest are the Islamic Urban Centers project and the Atlas of Early Printing. While creating an animated visualization was not covered, these projects give a good idea for what the integration of time into our datasets can be used to do.

Abigail Sargent, MVST student, gave a brief presentation on the French of Italy NeatLine exhibit, a project that uses Omeka’s NeatLine plug-in to visualize the locations and dates of medieval French texts of Italian origin.

We then moved into talking about Palladio, and what each of the three main presenters are using it for. David Wrisley introduced participants to the idea of point-to-point data, of seeing the relationships of pieces to things in medieval texts. David Levine demonstrated some of the limitations of Palladio by pulling up a very large data set about medieval woodland and demonstrating how Palladio’s visualizations and network mapping can be useful. Alisa Beer drew on her research into medieval English libraries and demonstrated how Palladio can map points geographically as well as how the timeline function can be used.

We then broke into small groups and trouble-shot an intentionally broken data set, and then had participants create a .csv file based on Amtrak time tables from 1971, including the trip from New York to Boston.

Once participants had created a .csv file, we uploaded to Palladio and discussed the point-to-point map we had created!

Palladio Amtrak Image

Interested in learning more about Palladio?
Check out Miriam Posner’s tutorial to Palladio. Then open this google doc for participants, where you will find an intentionally broken data set to fix and upload into Palladio!

Topics in Digital Mapping: Getting and Organizing Spatial Data


The first workshop for the Topics in Digital Mapping Series was yesterday, January 21st.  David Wrisley introduced us to a variety of tools and ideas related to the process of getting and organizing spatial data. Participants were encouraged to try porting .csv files into Google Maps and to compare the visualization options with those available from CartoDB, which will be the subject of Workshop four in this series.

All participants were encouraged to create a data set for themselves for the next workshop, on February 11th, with 25 points and a temporal element, so they can map a topic of personal interest in Palladio.

All slides from the talk are available for download at

Exciting Spring Events!

After a hiatus last semester, the Fordham Graduate Student Digital Humanities Group is back with a bang.  We’ve got a great list of events coming up, and two series going on.

FGSDH Events
Rose Hill Campus, 2pm-3pm
February 4: Debates in the Digital Humanities
February 25: Digital Pedagogy
March 25: Building and Maintaining an Online Profile
April 18: Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

Topics in Digital Mapping Events
Lincoln Center Campus, 3-5pm Workshops, 2-3pm Meet&Greet
February 11: Thinking about Time with Maps: Timelines/Palladio
March 4: Georectifying/MapWarper
April 15: Intro to CartoDB

Fordham’s Citizen Cartographers

What do you do with a growing collection of international maps that contains over 433,000 sheet maps and 20,000 book atlases, some of which date back to the 15th century? As twelve graduate students and one post-doc from Fordham University recently learned, you digitize it, of course. At the New York Public Library’s Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, that effort has begun with some of its New York City and antiquarian maps. But more than just make high-resolution images of these maps, the library also developed “Map Warper,” a tool which allows anyone with a computer and an internet connection to digitally align (also known as “rectify”) these maps to match today’s precise maps, such as OpenStreetMap and GoogleEarth. The project joins “What’s On the Menu,” another fabulous crowdsourcing project at the library.

Mishka Vance, a library technical assistant, shows Fordham University graduate students Tara Foley, Christy Potroff, and Melissa Whalen some maps in the NYPL’s collection at the Map Division.

On a grey February day, this group from Fordham assembled at the library to learn how to use MapWarper and become what the library calls “Citizen Cartographers.” The patient and delightful Mishka Vance, a technical assistant at the library, used a digitized, early twentieth-century Bronx fire map to demonstrate how to trace buildings, add information (brick, wood, or stone? residence or business?) about them to the database, and rectify the old map with a contemporary one.

Participants then proceeded to trace and rectify maps of their own choosing from the library’s digitized collection. Among the maps rectified that day were an early postal map from the Midwest, an ancient map of Cyprus, and a 1916 survey of Morningside Heights.

The people who attended this workshop hailed from several departments, including English, Classics, Theology, and Medieval Studies. They came for reasons that ranged from using Map Warper in their research, to using it in their teaching, to simply adding to their knowledge base of digital tools.

This spring, the Fordham Graduate Student Digital Humanities Group continues its efforts to make more opportunities like the Map Warper workshop available. Our next event will be a roundtable organized by Sarah Cornish and Jane Van Slembrouck called “Digital Traces.” It takes place on March 2 at the Graduate Student English Association’s Conference, “Remembering, Forgetting, Imagining: The Practices of Memory.” On March 6, HASTAC Scholar Patrick Burns leads a  discussion of Stephen Ramsay’s Reading Machines. See the Events page for more details on these and other spring programs.

The events sponsored by the FGSDH Group are open to all members of the Fordham community, no matter their level of technological expertise. With limited formal opportunities on campus for humanities students to learn how to incorporate technology with their coursework, research, and teaching, this group aims to at least partially fill that gap by teaching each other and learning together.

Citizen Cartographers are a happy bunch!
Citizen Cartographers are a happy bunch!

Learn about Digitally Rectifying Maps at the NYPL

Wednesday, February 6, 2:00-4:00PM.
New York Public Library, 42nd St and 5th Ave.

The New York Public Library has kindly agreed to offer a workshop to Fordham Graduate Students who wish to learn how to use the digital mapping tool, Map Warper. Space is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. The NYPL Map Warper is a tool for digitally aligning (“rectifying”) historical maps from the NYPL’s collections to match today’s precise maps. This workshop is for anyone interested in learning a new digital tool, particularly for people using maps in their research. Sign up by following the link below.

Follow the Fordham Graduate Student Digital Humanities on Facebook.

NYPL Map Warper