Historic Research-Cartography Last Updated 03/12/01

Our Cartography Department has the expertise and equipment to create and provide the author, historian or researcher with historically accurate maps showing specific topographic or man-made features from any period of western history.

We are able to create maps from “metes and bounds” descriptions from historic or current property records.

What is GIS?*

Think of the analogy of an encyclopedia’s set of plastic overlays of the human body. Each GIS layer is like one plastic overlay. Where before GIS, you had to look at different paper maps, each probably at a different scale and potentially different projection, now using GIS, you can overlay all these different maps easily to find the relationships betrween the different features you are researching.

Computerized Geographic Informations Systems are useful in analyzing data about land uses, migration and settlement patterns, and trails and roadways. Aerial photographs, historic maps, and current maps can be compared using GIS techniques to determine the nature and extent of land use changes through time. A GIS-based cartographic database can be both continuous and scale free, creating a standard scale for maps and photos having different scales.

We often say “I see” to mean “I understand.” Pattern recognition is something most people excel at. There is a vast difference between seeing data in a table of rows and columns and seeing it presented in the form of a map. The difference is not simply aesthetic, it is conceptual–the way one views data has a profound effect on the connections they make and the conclusions drawn from it. GIS gives the historian the layout and drawing tools to present facts with clear, compelling documents.

*Computerized Geographic Information Systems


Historic Archival-Library Research: Last Updated 03/12/01

The entire TRAILS WEST staff is skilled in conducting archival and library research. Their career locations have included libraries, universities, state and local governmental offices, and private profit and not-for-profit organizations conducting research, creating databases, records managment, GIS, cartographic mapping, and blueprinting services.

The fact that the TRAILS WEST staff is so familiar with library research methods, indexing systems, manuscript collections, cataloging systems, government documents, local, state and national archive collections, sources of old newspapers, and on-line resources, allows the historical writer or researcher to save valuable time and money “learning the ropes,” especially in areas that are geographically remote. Using the TRAILS WEST staff will maximize your own effectiveness. In addition our staff has a special knack for finding seemingly “lost” information, and for sifting through mountains of information quickly to ascertain that which is the most relavent and timely.

The TRAILS WEST staff are familiar with and prepared to conduct research in libraries, museums, archives, and universities in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, West Texas, and Wyoming. Arrangements for historic research in other western states is also available.