sshaJohn Clark, Data Visualization & GIS Librarian with Skillman Library’s Digital Scholarship Services department participated in the 39th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association in Toronto this week. Over the course of four days John participated in and chaired a number of sessions featuring cutting edge research projects in digital and spatial history.

The Association brings together a broad interdisciplinary group of historians and social scientists organized in a variety of thematic research networks. The Historical Geography network, for which he serves as a co-chair, features many of the earliest adopters in the use of Geographical Information Systems in historical research and for many years has been one of the principal venues for the presentation of innovative work creating new spatial histories and historical geographies through GIS research methods.

The presentations at this year’s conference reflected continued growth in these methodologies that now reach beyond desktop GIS tools to include the development of web-based virtual research environments (VRE) much like those under development at Skillman Library’s Digital Scholarship Services repository.

While at the conference John chaired two sessions. The first focused on progress made at the Collaborative in Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA) at the University of Pittsburgh’s World History Center where researchers are creating a world-historical data archive covering the past four centuries along with a data integration tool, Col*Fusion, aimed at harmonizing and normalizing datasets from a wide variety of knowledge domains.

The second, a roundtable titled Historical Atlases, Yesterday and Today featured a lively discussion of the genre while focusing on two recent publications; the Historical Atlas of Maine (University of Maine Press, 2015) and the digital republication (University of Richmond Digital Scholars Lab, 2013) of the classic Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (Carnegie Institution and American Geographical Society, 1932) featuring animations and other web-GIS functions applied to the original content.

The sessions will be of interest to both digital humanities scholars and social science researchers at Lafayette. To learn more about the latest in new research methods and projects using GIS contact John at

For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at, or call (610) 330-5796.