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Volunteers are helping to make historical atlases of Asia digitally available

Leiden University Libraries (UBL) are launching Maps in the Crowd – Atlases, a project that welcomes participation from the public to make accessible eleven atlases with over 300 digitized maps of Asia. The public’s help is invited to improve access to the cartographic collection for education and research. Everyone interested is warmly invited to take part in the project.

The atlases cover various parts of Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, China, India and Bangladesh and date from the middle of the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth century.

Participating
Everybody is able to participate. A special application, ‘Georeferencer’, has been developed for the public that makes it possible to link – or georeference – digitized historical maps to their modern topographical counterparts in Google Maps. The application has a wide range of functionalities, including various viewing options (‘Overlay’, ‘Grid’ to compare multiple maps,  ‘Swipe’, ‘Spy glass’, 3D-viewer), making transcriptions, including the historical maps in GeoEditors and the availability of the georeferenced files for reuse in individual GIS applications.

Linking
Using the Georeferencer application, a scan of a historical map is projected alongside a modern map view in Google Maps. The purpose is to geographically link the old to the new map by identifying five or more corresponding  control points. The georeferenced map will then be shown as an overlay in Google Maps. For detailed information go to blog Maps in the Crowd.

Collections
The atlases that have been selected come from the University Library’s rare books collection, the bequest of the nineteenth-century collector Johannes Bodel Nijenhuis (1797-1872) and the atlas collection the KIT Royal Tropical Institute.

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