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Online map interfaces and GIS software are means of accessing and visualizing archival holdings associated strongly with places. This article investigates the possibility of an interest among at least some archivists and historians in finding records based on place names and maps. A review of recent tools and case studies on map-based methods of seeking and visualizing information in archives and special collections provides a current overview. A 2015 survey gathered additional information from archivists as to whether they place a high priority on, and are comfortable with, map-based methods, as well as to what extent their patron groups might benefit from such methods. A subsequent 2018 survey of historians provided evidence that this major patron group of archives would benefit from map-based methods of discovery, although the survey indicated that they are focused on GIS software, not simple visualization tools, in their own work. The literature and survey data validate the premise that many archives patrons are interested in exploring this area, but that the difference between archivists’ and historians’ technical knowledge and interests is a significant obstacle.
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