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World Historical Gazetteer

This is the repository for the World Historical Gazetteer (WHG) web platform and API. The project is based at the University of Pittsburgh's World History Center (WHC). It has been substantially funded by two US National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grants, in-kind support from the WHC, and several collaborating groups.

WHG is aggregating attestations of historical place references contributed by researchers. Version 1 was launched on 27 July 2020 and Version 2 released on 4 August 2021, with generous support from the Royal Dutch Academy's KNAW Humanities Cluster. Incremental updates are ongoing. There is substantial information about the purposes and uses of WHG in its Site Guide and Tutorials. Announcements and discussion about the project are available on our blog website and via our Twitter feed, @WHGazetteer.

Contributing to software and data development

WHG is an open-source project. Please see this document for an overview of how to participate in the several aspects of WHG development. Some categories of tasks in our long TODO queue are listed as GitHub issues. For a description of the stack, and an outline of the data pipeline, workflow, and platform functionality, see this page

Change log

v2.1-beta (27 April 2022)

  • New "Place Collection" feature, added to existing "Dataset Collection" capability. Place Collections can be composed of individual place records from one or more datasets (or entire datasets) related to each other in some way. Each record can be annotated to explain its inclusion, and the collection itself can include images, links, and an uploaded file.

v2.0.1 (1 Feb 2022)

  • Added 'Teaching' section of the site. Eight lesson plans included to start, primarily high school level

v2.0 (4 Aug 2021)

  • New "Collection" feature added, with two early examples: "Dutch History" and "HGIS de las Indias"
  • Revamped search functionality: option to search database as well as index; filter results by type, country, map bounding box; return to results from place pages
  • Public views for datasets, collections, and individual records
  • Dataset and Collection maps now using MapLibreGL, for fast rendering of large datasets
  • Reliablity and error reporting for upload functions improved
  • Rewritten documentation; new tutorial on LP-TSV creation and new sample lesson plan
  • SSL (https) enabled
  • Formation of an editorial team has begun
  • Redesigned home page
  • Code refactoring and cleanup

v1.21 (11 May 2021)

  • New 'deferred' queue for reconciliation tasks
  • Reconciliation review status per-record and per-task now tracked on Dataset > Browse screen
  • Reconcile-to-WHG (accessioning) now finds candidate sets within WHG index, not individual records
  • Collections feature enabled for beta testers

v1.2 (5 Mar 2021)

  • New local 3.5m record Wikidata index for reconciliation
  • New and improved authorization functions (register, login, password recovery)
  • Add dataset collaborators in 'member' or 'co-owner' roles
  • Reconciliation task progress tracking and status feedback improved

v1.1a (11 Jan 2021)

  • Support for uploading & validating .csv, .xlsx, and .ods formats added
  • Compute country codes if absent & geometry present
  • Fixes: wikidata links; reporting upload errors; temporal data parsing

v1.1 (10 Dec 2020)

  • Reconciliation tasks now queued, and dataset owner notified by email upon completion.
  • Base map replaced w/Natural Earth tiles
  • Numerous minor bug fixes

v1.0 (27 July 2020)

  • Additional data accessioned: 28,000 historical records from Pleiades, Euratlas, and OWTRAD datasets.
  • APIs for access to the database and the Elasticsearch index. Site search is against accessioned and conflated records in the index, but data uploaded to the database is discoverable as well, if flagged 'public'
  • Additional trace data added. 70 new sets of annotations
  • Search function significantly updated. Filters for feature class/category, spatial, temporal constraints.
  • Comprehensive Site Guide added.
  • Download datasets, before and after augmenting via reconciliation.
  • Recover password functionality.
  • Numerous GUI improvements and fixes. Including redesign of home page.

beta v0.4 (2 May 2020)

  • Dataset downloads. Options from dataset detail panel to download a) latest uploaded data file as is, b) augmented dataset (includes any geometries and/or concordance 'links' added during reconciliation review step).

  • Draft public API. Parameters include q=, dataset=, ccodes=. E.g. /api/?q=abydos&dataset=black&ccodes=eg

  • Misc minor UI fixes.

beta v0.3 (25 Feb 2020)

  • Core data significantly expanded. Added ~1.5 million place records from Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), and ~1,000 large cities from GeoNames to WHG index. Contributions from historical sources will, in addition to adding novel entries, add "temporal depth" to these ahistorical data.

  • Dataset updates. Dataset owners are now able to perform updates by uploading new data files. Analysis of the changes to be made (add, remove, replace) is performed automatically, and presented for review before performing them. NOTE: available only for LP-TSV format currently. Linked Places format will follow soon, as will enhancements to file management.

  • "Collaborator" role. Dataset owners can specify any number of registered users as collaborators, able to view non-public data and assist in review of reconciliation results; effectively, dataset project teams.

  • Undo last reconciliation match. When moving quickly through prospective matches in the reconciliation review task, it is possible to inadvertently save a match; we've added a single step undo of the last action.

  • Dataset management functions consolidated. Single page with tabs for Metadata, Browse, Reconciliation, Collaboration functionality.

Software libraries and packages

  • Django 2.2.10
  • Python 3.9.4
  • PostgreSQL 15
  • Elasticsearch 7.17
  • Nginx 1.14.0
  • Gunicorn 19.9.0
  • Celery 4.2.1
  • Bootstrap 5
  • JQuery 3.3.1
  • MapLibre.js
  • Leaflet 1.3.1