Put shortly, can we turn old maps into living documents? The answer is certainly positive. Even in the era before the digital revolution, lots of motion and story maps have been made, while maps themselves have always been in motion too.

The 100-level course LASGNRL101 focused on the intersection of history, cartography, cultural heritage, digital humanities and citizen science. It took place in the context of the 2019-2020 fellowship of map and urban historian Bram Vannieuwenhuyze (University of Amsterdam) at the Royal Scientific Society of Zeeland (KZGW). This society has among others built a huge map collection, which is hosted by the Zeeuws Archief (ZA) in Middelburg.

In 2019 KZGW celebrated its 250th anniversary. In this context, the course Activating Old Maps built on Vannieuwenhuyze’s ongoing research on narratives and motion in (old) maps, and will be combined with an exploration of digital mapping tools and a participatory, (online) exhibition project. The ultimate goal of the course was to ‘break through’ the lifeless and static character of old maps and to reflect upon their agility and dynamics, both as objects and as support/media for content and meaning.

During the first weeks, the students who enrolled for the course became acquainted with the most important aspects of the history of cartography. Each week, we also visited the reading room of the Zeeuws Archief in Middelburg in order to discover and discuss a selection of old maps from the rich KZGW map collection. In the second part of the course, the focus shifted to two particular maps from that collection: the Middelburg map made by Cornelis Goliath about 1657 and printed in 1696, and the large wall map entitled Zelandiae comitatus novissima tabula, also known as the ‘Roman-Visscher map of Zeeland’ from about 1655. The students were divided into three groups and reflected upon the possibilities to activate and revitalise these seventeenth-century paper maps, especially by developing an interactive digital application. After a lot of hard work and a series of brainstorming sessions with the instructors and invited external experts, the three applications were ready to be released to the wider public.

1. Mapping Middelburg

Student-led podcast exploring different aspects of the so called Goliath map of Middelburg, made in 1657 by Cornelis Goliath. The mini-series, based off of Instagram, will touch upon topics such as mapmaking in the Dutch Golden Age, the life of Cornelis Goliath, and comparisons between old and modern-day Middelburg.


Release: Monday, May 4th

Made by UCR students: Roemer Faber, Alice Fournier, Lieke van Rooij and Simone Stals

2. Mapping Daily Life in the 17th Century

An interactive look into daily life in the 17th century using two maps of the time, the Goliath map of Middelburg and the Roman-Visscher map of Middelburg. A Prezi that can be clicked through with ease and to the interest of the viewer, as well a video walkthrough for those who wish a simpler view.

Weblink: https://prezi.com/view/4TKqAHuxDNRgsC5Gc2dd/

Release: Saturday, May 9th

Made by UCR students: Michelle Natalie Cecil, Clarissa Frascadore, Arian Gonzalez Höflich and Jan Jaap van Klompenburg

3. The Goliath Community Map

The Goliath Community Map is meant to connect Cornelis Goliath's 1657 map of Middelburg with Middelburg as it is experienced by its (former) residents in the 21st century, in order to show the continuity of a sense of community in the city, despite the many changes to the physical space itself. This project, in the form of a Prezi, provides an online space displaying a collection of stories from the 17th and 21st centuries, connected to historical places seen on the map, around this theme of community. Especially now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we namely found it important to create a project that is centred around the connections between people (and how they remain through time), when those connections for quite some months now will have to be maintained in particularly strange ways.


ReleaseWednesday May 6th, 13.00