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Ian Gregory

Professor of Digital Humanities

BA: Geography (Lancaster); MSc: Geographical Information Systems (Edinburgh); PhD: Historical GIS (London)

Department of History
Lancaster University
Lancaster, LA1 4YT, UK

Room: B144, Bowland
Tel: +44 (0)1524 594967
Fax: +44 (0)1524 846102

I am a geographer by training who, after doing an MSc in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Edinburgh, got a one-year contract at Queen Mary, University of London working to create a GIS of some nineteenth century administrative data. Somehow this evolved into the Great Britain Historical GIS (GBHGIS), a major database that comprises the majority of statistical data from sources such as the census and vital registration data for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was also the subject of my PhD. Since leaving London I worked at the University of Portsmouth and then as the Associate Director of Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at the Queens University, Belfast. In September 2006 I moved to Lancaster where I work in Digital Humanities.

I have twice been network co-chair of the Social Science History Association's Historical Geography network and served on their Executive Committee. I also founded and am network co-chair of the European Social Science History Association's Spatial and Digital History network. As shown below I have published widely on historical GIS including four books, one published by CUP, and articles in journals including Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Annals of the Assoc. of American Geographers, Progress in Human Geography, and the British Medical Journal. I am Speciality Section editor of the Digital History section of the newly launched journal Frontiers in Digital Humanities and have served on the editorial boards of journals including: Social Science History, Historical Methods and Transactions in GIS. I am a member of the Young Academy of Europe.

Research interests :

1. The use of conventional Historical GIS techniques to study long-term change in Britain and Ireland in particular through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

2. Using GIS to explore textual sources, especially large corpora, through the combined use of geo-parsing, spatial analysis and corpus linguistics techniques.

3. Developing an understanding of what GIS has to offer to the humanities and developing the use of these technologies in disciplines including history and literary studies.

4. Using digital technologies across the humanities and social sciences to gain a better understanding of the past.

What is Historical GIS?

For an answer to this see the Historical GIS Research Network website.

Spatial Humanities project

I am PI on a European Research Council grant on Spatial Humanities: Texts, GIS and places. This project runs from 2012 to 2016 and builds upon Lancaster’s international expertise in Corpus Linguistics and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The project will develop methodologies for the automatic extraction of place names from large bodies of text, a process which will facilitate spatial interpretations of both historical events and imaginative representations of space and place.  These techniques will then be applied to two major case studies. The first will explore the literary geographies of the Lake District from the middle of the eighteenth-century to the early twentieth-century. This strand of the project will focus primarily on mapping an extensive range of literary texts; but it will also explore how the spatial patterns embedded within these writings relate to contemporary web 2.0 representations (such as photographs on Flickr) of the Lakes. The second strand will concentrate on nineteenth-century social and demographic history and will examine how textual sources can be integrated with statistical information – from sources such as the census – to shed new lights on a range of topics including mortality decline. The project will also include a significant training component to widen the skills base in the use of digital technologies within a range of humanities disciplines. It will also involve extensive collaboration with a range of cultural heritage partners in the north west and beyond. 

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