E. Heere

Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences - Dept. of Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning


Last decades modern technology, like GIS, has entered the field of historical cartography. The use of these modern technologies leads to new questions about the users of old maps: what do they expect from the new technologies, how do they incorporate the technologies in their research projects or in which way does the technology influence a research project. Users research will give answers to these kind of questions.

In this paper a research project is presented about the use and users of a GIS for historical cartography.

The GIS contains information from several estate atlases. These atlases, dated 1550 until 1840, contain handwritten property maps. The maps contain a lot of topographical information, so they are a rich source for historians. A few examples of these maps will be shown.

In, what we normally call, modern cartography there is a long history in users research. Several methods were used by the researches, of which some are useful to the research on the use of old maps. One of these methods, the think-aloud method, is used in the research project, presented in this paper. With this method, the subject (test person) has to fulfil some exercises. The subject is asked to speak out loud all the thoughts he has. His talking, but also all of his handlings, will be recorded on video- and audiotape. These tapes lead to a verbal protocol, which can be analysed. These verbal protocols provides us information about the way a subject (in this case the professional user of old maps) acts in performing a task, and, especially, why he acts the way he does. The reasons for using this method will be further explained.

In this paper the exercise which test persons had to fulfil will be explained and the results of the tests will be presented.