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Historical GIS & demography

The aim of this project is to link historical population data from population censuses and population registers to digitized Dutch historical cadastral maps for the purpose of demographic analysis at the micro level.

During the past years various initiatives were taken to use historical cartographic material available in several Dutch historical archives. In the first place one can think of digitizing (scanning) the available paper versions of historical maps. However, more and more, there is a need not only for scanning historical maps, but also for preparing, i.e. vectorizing and georeferencing, them for presentation and analysis of other data sources, for instance, demographic and other socio-economic data at the family and household level from historical population censuses and (other) registers. 

Map of households by religion, Amsterdam,  1851


Source: HISGIS Amsterdam / Amsterdam Population Register 1851-1853.

This project will unlock some Dutch municipalities using a geographical information system (GIS) to vectorize historical cadastral maps. Currently NIDI is working together with the Frysk Akademy on digitizing and linking the historical cadastral maps of Amsterdam to population register data of 1851-1853 (HISGIS Amsterdam). Such links allow analyses of changes in time, both from a demographic, spatial planning, and genealogical perspective.


Wiel, K. van der & Ekamper, P. (2018),
Kromme sikkel des doods, of de pest van 1624 in Delft. In: Jaarboek Delfia Batavorum 2017, 27. Delft: Historische Vereniging Delfia Batavorum, p. 75-95. [URL]
Sommerseth, H.L., Ekamper, P. & Sogner, S. (2016),
Marriage patterns and residential behaviour among Norwegian women in Amsterdam, 1621-1720. Continuity and Change 31 (2): 175-209. [pdf]
Ekamper, P. & Poppel, F. van (2014),
Infant mortality in Amsterdam around 1850; religion, social class and space. Paper presented at the Launching conference of the European Society of Historical Demography (ESHD), Alghero, Italy, 25-27 September 2014. [pdf]
Ekamper, P. & Buzing, G. (2013),
Delfts blauwe dood; de gevolgen van de cholera in de negentiende eeuw. Demos, bulletin over bevolking en samenleving 29 (6): 4-7. [pdf]
Ekamper, P. (2010),
Using cadastral maps in historical demographic research: some examples from the Netherlands. The History of the Family 15 (1): 1-12. [pdf]
Mol, J.A. & Ekamper, P. (2010),
De kadastrale kapstok; HISGIS Fryslân als model voor een Nederlands basissysteem. In: O. Boonstra & A. Schuurman (eds.), Tijd en ruimte; nieuwe toepassingen van GIS in de alfawetenschappen. Utrecht: Stichting Matrijs, p. 198-209.
Ekamper, P. & Mol, H. (2008),
De bevolking van Leeuwarden halverwege de negentiende eeuw; de volkstelling van 1839 in kaart gebracht met HISGIS Fryslân. Fryslân, nieuwsblad voor geschiedenis en cultuur 13 (3): 5-14. [pdf]


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