Contextualising places in time

As part of the Open Correspondence project, I’ve started to look at place names and locations to build a set of temporal and spatial data for the letters to allow for geographical queries.

As part of the search, I came across a reference to Sean Gillies’ useful blog post talking about modelling historical place names for the Pleiades project. What intrigues me about the places is that they don’t exist in amber. They change and adapt.

Playing around with Open Layers (and inspired by Jo Walsh’s piece on historical maps on Mapping Hacks), I’ve become interested in the idea of placing a historical map on top of a current street map so that you can see what a place looks like now and also when, for example, Dickens lived in Tavistock Square or Gad’s Hill Place. How has it changed? What did it look like then? What does it look like now? Does it even exist?

Whilst that may not aid textual analysis, it could be tied into historical and social queries about the letters. By adding this layer of data, which one might not normally think about in terms of leters data, we can find out other things of interest.

I think for now, I’ll try not to go too far down this road only so that I can get the other bits of data fixed first.