China Historical Geographic Information System (CHGIS) project
The China Historical Geographic Information System (CHGIS) project was launched in December 2000, with funding from the Luce Foundation. The CHGIS will establish a standardized coding system to identify historical administrative units for different periods in Chinese History, and will also provide a base GIS platform for researchers to use for spatial analysis,temporal statistical modeling, and representation of selected historical units as digital maps. The project will begin with several temporal slices from the Qing Dynasty and work backwards in time, allowing for additional information about intervening points in time to be added at any stage in the process. The objective is to create a flexible tool that can be used to investigate any sort of geographically specific data related to China. The CHGIS geocodes can be used as unique identifiers in databases, or to mark up texts, which will enable users to import their own datasets into the CHGIS platform. Users will be able to sort, query, and display their data, for different historical periods, or at different levels of aggregation. In addition, the CHGIS is designed to allow for alternate versions of both feature attribute tables, and their related spatial objects. This will enable users to create their own interpretations of historical administrative changes, should they wish to do so, and to store them in a separate spatial data table. In this way, alternate versions and interpretations of Chinese History can be displayed, overlayed, compared, and analyzed statistically. Similarly, alternate feature data tables can be associated with the spatial data in CHGIS, which could be used to generate tables and maps in different languages, or for analysis of highly specialized data, such as environmental change, population studies, the spread of religions, historical linguistics, etc.