At EHRI, we are constantly looking at Digital Tools that can assist in the research of Holocaust and refugee related topics. We hope to make these tools as accessible as possible so that researchers who have no experience with digital tools will consider trying new ways of using their data.
A number of datasets presented at EHRI related events contain place names that researchers wish to present on maps. In order to accurately display locations, latitude and longitude coordinates are essential. EHRI has created an entity matching tool to help researchers find coordinates for present day locations.
The dataset in this example relates to the birthplaces of a number of refugees who escaped from Nazi occupied Europe to Great Britain and were then deported to Australia. The data has been collected in an Excel spreadsheet and there is a column with the towns of the refugees’ birthplace:
In order to map these locations, the EHRI Entity Matching tool proves very useful. It is available at https://emt.ehri-project.eu/:
For the purpose of this example, places are used, though it is also possible to match people, corporate bodies, and terms using this tool.
The cells listing the birthplaces are copied into the entity matching tool. The tool automatically turns the column of cells into a list of one entity per line. Click on the ‘Find Matches’ button.
Once ‘Find Matches’ has been clicked, the results appear in a window below. For each place there is a list of all possible matches. Scroll through the list and select the appropriate matches for your data. Your selections will update the map on the right hand side of the screen so that the selections can be visualised.
When all selections have been agreed, click on the ‘Download’ button on the right hand side of the screen, which will give you the option of opening the file in Microsoft Excel.
This data can now be used, for example, in creating maps in Google by going to https://www.google.com/maps/d/?hl=en
Click on ‘Create a New Map’ to open a blank canvas.
Click on ‘Import’ to add the place data obtained from the entity matching tools. Select the Excel file downloaded from the entity matching tool when prompted during the import. The option will then be given to choose the columns to position placemarks.
Ensure the latitude and longitude columns are correctly selected to align with the labels on Google Maps, then click ‘Continue’ and select the column that holds the names of the places, then click ‘Finish’.
The data can now be visualised on a map as an aid to research, with the possibility of multiple layers created.
For this particular dataset it was also desirable to show a second set of location data with the locations of internment camps in the UK. In order to separate the two set of data, the colour was changed on the second set by clicking on one of the data points, choosing ‘Edit’, and clicking on the paint pot icon. Images can also be added to individual markers, giving further information about the data point, such as documentation, photos of individuals, or the camps to which they were sent.
This a simple example of how the EHRI Entity Matching tool can be used to create data visualisations using mapping tools such as Google Maps, and there are many variations of how these maps can be created, but hopefully this short guide will encourage you to experiment with this digital tool to visualise aspects of your research on refugees and the Holocaust.