CE27 - Culture, créations, patrimoine

COllaborative Micro Mapping of UNExploited HIStorical District-Boundary Data – COMMUNE-HISDBD

COMMUNE-HisDBD- COllaborative Micro Mapping of UNExploited HIStorical District-Boundary Data

Geospatial infrastructure of France 1700-2020 <br />Administrative districts, Populations, Transport, Economy

OBJECTIVES

Our project will: 1) produce the first annualized historical GIS (H-GIS) for France, recreating exact boundaries of all municipalities from the Revolution to the present day. It also links these spatial units to population data and access to transport networks; 2) develop a multimodal model of the transport network, to support the analysis of economic and demographic phenomena for the same period; 3) model and analyse on a very fine scale some of the key demographic and socio-economic phenomena. Enriched with other historical information, this H-GIS will be a tool of reference for researchers in the humanities and social sciences. <br />The boundaries of over 41,000 metropolitan municipalities, existing or having existed since 1790 will be mapped so that it is possible to reconstruct all upper-level administrative units. This will be supplemented by the cartographic reconstruction of road, navigable waterways, and railroads for the entire period. <br />Ultimately, this tool will link demographic, socio-economic, environmental, accessibility and cultural data to fine spatial unit over time and will make it possible to model and analyse their interactions, completely renewing research questions in the human and social sciences.

CREATING AND INTERLINKING TWO H-SIG:

1) TERRITORY AND POPULATION
Our method is based both on the expertise developed by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (CAMPOP, University of Cambridge) and on the pioneering work of Claude Motte, Isabelle Séguy and Christine Théré who reconstructed the administrative history of all French communes from 1801 to 2001.
We use a combination of documents: military maps (Etat-Major), Napoleonic cadasters, topographic surveys and other textual and cartographic documents, systematically collected in departmental and municipal archives. We use the 2008 and 2019 versions of the BDTOPO as a continuous base layer to be displayed in ArcGIS / QGIS, and to georeference the scans and photographs of the boundary maps of the historic communes.

2) MULTIMODAL TRANSPORT NETWORK
The methodology is based on the experience previously acquired on the reconstitution of the French rail network. We recreated navigable waterways on the basis of maps, websites (Babel project), and several work of reference (such as Lalande, Grangez, Geiger, Lesueur, or Merger) and records collected in departmental archives. The IGN's BDTOPO and TOPAGE databases will be used as a support to trace the development of the network using a retropolating method from 2020 back to 1700.
The reconstruction of the roads uses a similar approach based on Cassini maps for the 18th century, IGN Etat-Major sheets for the 19th-20th century and other textual and cartographic documents from the archives.
The intermodality of the networks will draw on graph theory, using connectors between the different networks. Travel speeds will be estimated from technological developments noted in the literature. On this basis, travel time calculations will be created for each decade between 1700 and 2020.

Having a historical GIS retracing, year by year, the territory of each of the metropolitan municipalities will make it possible to avoid bias in studies based on current municipal boundaries (the reference year being generally 1999). Rather than attempting to adjust historical data to fit modern borders our dataset will make it possible to avoid significant biases, which can neither be corrected, nor even rigorously estimated.
This tool will therefore offer the finest level of precision for new quantitative analyses based on historical sources and fully compatible with current administrative units, unlocking future analyses of censuses, industrial and agricultural surveys, civil status data at their native spatial resolution.

Paired with a multimodal transport system our dataset will offer an exciting new dynamic perspective on the analysis of the socio-economic and demographic changes that have occurred during these 250 years. Accessibility maps will make it possible to account for the incredible evolution of speeds over the long term and help us study causal relationships between infrastructure change and demographic, agricultural and economic developments.

The prospects for using this geospatial infrastructure are considerable.
In addition to substantial scientific production, this data infrastructure will also lend itself to educational uses and further re-use both private and public.

- All our data will be on open access to provide transparency, traceability and guarantee the dissemination of our work.
- The scientific legacy of our project is guaranteed by depositing all the data to the Archives Nationales.
- Public impact and engagement with our work will be enhanced by the diffusion through popular platforms such as IGN Géoportail and Remonter le Temps portals, Cambridge’s Travel in Times’ and Geneanet’s websites.

This project will: 1) develop the most ambitious H-GIS municipal boundary data in the world by recreating municipal boundaries for the whole of France year by year over the last two hundred years, linking historical administrative units to population and transport accessibility data. 2) Develop and use a multimodal model of transport networks to analyse changes in economic geography and historical demography over the period. 3) We will use this HGIS to analyse spatial and historical variations in population density and population geography as a proxy for economic development over the period. Linked to other rich historical data, this HGIS will become a reference for all social scientists. This important tool is still missing as previous attempts have not succeeded in producing a reliable and accurate database of boundary change, mainly because of the lack of a systematic collection of historical records to reconstruct past administrative units.
This project combines the strength and expertise of French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (CAMPOP, Cambridge), and ThéMA Lab from Bourgogne-Franche-Comté University. It also counts with the implication of the National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information (IGN) and the active support of some of the most prominent European scholars in our Advisory Board. Thanks to a team of highly-qualified research associates and research assistants we can guarantee with confidence the success of this ambitious project. The unique combination of the historical and cartographic expertise of our teams will allow us to fill this major historical gap.
Thanks to the seminal work by Séguy and Théré, who compiled a list of all boundary changes since 1801, we have devised a method to reconstruct historical administrative boundaries efficiently and accurately. We will be using a combination of historical and cartographic sources drawing upon administrative records, official maps from the Service Géographique de l’Armée (SGA) and IGN, and other cartographic material such as cadastral mapping, and recent land surveys. Overall c.15% of all communes, will require exhaustive archival research all over France in order to digitise contemporary maps of administrative boundaries. Over the years the CAMPOP has developed significant expertise by reconstructing English and Welsh parish-level boundaries for the period 1831-1881 with sources scarcer than in the French case. The project will draw upon the significant expertise of ThéMA in recreating historical transport infrastructure, to complete the French historical road network and all navigable waterways over three centuries. The preliminary work we have been carrying out since the submission of our first-round application has vindicated our initial estimates and confirmed the feasibility of the project under strict time and cost constraints.
Our deliverables include: 1) the first and only set of GIS boundary data for all French communes from 1790 to the present linked to population data and transport networks. The novel methodology devised for this project will be replicable to other countries. 2) Linking large databases to fine spatial units through time will be a major breakthrough in the application of quantitative and comparative analyses of large datasets to history. 3) Build a truly multi-modal model of analysis to assess the effect of changing journey times and costs on spatial population dynamics and patterns of economic development. 4) All our data will be on open access to provide transparency, traceability and guarantee the dissemination of our work. The scientific legacy of our project is guaranteed by depositing all the data to the Archives Nationales. 5) Public impact and engagement with our work will be enhanced by the diffusion through popular platforms such as IGN Géoportail and Remonter le Temps portals, Cambridge’s Travel in Times’ and Geneanet’s websites.

Project coordinator

Madame Isabelle SEGUY (Histoire et populations)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

CAMPOP Université de Cambridge / CAMPOP
HISTOIRE Histoire et populations
ThéMA THEORISER ET MODELISER POUR AMENAGER - UMR 6049

Help of the ANR 417,045 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2019 - 36 Months

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