Posts Tagged ‘digital history’

By now, a lot of people are aware of NYPL’s fantastic digital GIS tool, Mapwarper. It enables users to create overlays with any map in their digital collection. Mapwarper has made NYPL’s geographic resources available to the public in such a way that makes them more meaningful, but it’s not the only, free-of-charge, online GIS program of its kind. In my research, I’ve explored a few others that are equally user-friendly and give you slightly different abilities, allowing you to exploit a more diverse range of resources.


NYPL’s Beta version of the Mapwarper

Something that many people don’t know is that the Beta version of NYPL’s Mapwarper is actually still available and allows you to do one thing that the official version does not: upload and georectify maps and images that are not in the NYPL digital collection.


Downloadable Hi-Res map of New York Bay and Harbor (1903) from NOAA’s Historic Chart and Map Collection

While NYPL is a vast repository of geographic materials, there are other libraries and archives out there that house different and sometimes unique maps that a person may find more useful than what NYPL has to offer in their digital gallery. Some examples would be the Library of Congress’ Map Collection or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Historical Map and Chart Collection. These are two repositories that allow users to search for and download high resolution files of historic maps. By going to www.mapwarper.net, instead of http://maps.nypl.org/warper, you can  upload and georectify these files. And if you feel like getting creative, you can georectify literally any image file you upload, regardless of whether or not it is a map. Comme ca:


British Headquarters Map of Manhattan Island (1782) on The David Rumsey Map Collection Website.


Georectifying the Headquarters Map, using Georeferencer.org.

Mapwarper Beta is great for manipulating and exploring those maps you are able to download. Some digital repositories however, will allow you to look at hi-res images on their site, but have included protections so that you can’t actually download them. Gallery sales and exhibition websites, like the David Rumsey Map Collection, frequently have zoom functions to get you right up close to examine map details, but only display a small portion of the hi-res image at a time. However, there is another online program called Georeferencer that enables people to use these maps without downloading/uploading the file, using only the map’s URL. Copy and paste the link to the map into the “Georeference” field on the homepage and click “Georeference.” The hi-res data that was only available in a small box on the Gallery site, is now available as an entire image on the Georeferencer site.


British Headquarters Map overlay created in Georeferencer.org. View is from approximately W. 3rd to W. 20th Streets.

The process of adding reference points to maps and creating overlays with either of these programs is so simple that any attempt to explain it here would likely be more complicated than it should be and probably result in unnecessary confusion. It’s really as easy as clicking on the same location on two maps. It’s best to just play around with it and explore it yourself. By incorporating these other GIS programs into your research, you are able to bring in a much wider variety of resources that may otherwise have been left unexplored, and you can see what the Village was before it was the Village.


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While researching the impact that World War One had on Greenwich Village, I came across the Abingdon Square Doughboy.  This statue, located in Abingdon Square Park near the intersection of 8th Avenue and Hudson Street, was commissioned by the residents of Greenwich Village in order to memorialize the soldiers from their neighborhood who had lost their lives during World War One.  However, the Doughboy is connected to the Village in more ways than one.  The sculptor who created this particular memorial was a man named Philip Martiny, whose studio was located on MacDougal Alley.

The Abingdon Square Doughboy

Martiny was born in 1858 in France, where he trained under a sculptor by the name of Eugene Dock.  At age 20, he immigrated to America for what was, in his own words, “the most sordid of reasons:” to evade army service in France.  Upon his arrival in America, Martiny began to study with the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was widely considered to be one of the greatest American sculptors of the Beaux Arts movement.   He proved to be an adept student, and by the early 1900’s, Martiny had already received a number of very prominent commissions.

The turn of the 20th century was a good time to be a sculptor in America, and even more so in New York City.  The Beaux Arts movement, with its goal of beautifying urban environments, was in full swing in New York.  Beautifully decorated classical style buildings were popping up like daisies, and sculptors were in high demand.  Martiny, having been trained by the great Saint-Gaudens, was a highly sought out sculptor for the Beaux Arts projects being erected all over Manhattan.  He created a number of sculptures to be placed on the Chamber of Commerce building on Liberty Street in Manhattan.  These sculptures have disappeared from the side of the building, though, and their current location seems to be a bit of a mystery.  All that remains on the Chamber of Commerce building are empty spaces between the columns where the statues were formerly housed.

The Chamber of Commerce Building with and without Martiny’s statues:

66 Liberty Street (Broadway - Nassau Street)  

However, Martiny’s work is still visible elsewhere in the city.  He, along with other famous sculptors of the day, created sculptures to grace the outside of the Appellate Court on 25th Street and Madison Avenue.  He also designed the eagles that decorate the famous Greenwich Village Landmark: the Washington Square Arch.

File:Washington Square by Matthew Bisanz.JPG

Washington Square Arch (note Martiny’s eagle smack in the middle)

The Arch would have been just a short walk from Martiny’s studio on MacDougal Alley.  The alley was a busy place in the early 1900’s.  A New York Times reporter remarked that the street had “quite as many stables as studios.”  Martiny’s studio, though, was unique.  By 1904, Martiny was receiving so many commissions that he had to hire an office staff of accountants to process them all.

Perhaps Martiny’s status as a local helped him gain one of the last commissions of his career.  The Jefferson Democratic Club selected Martiny to create a World War I memorial across from their headquarters on West 12th Street. Martiny accepted the commission and in 1921, the Abingdon Square Doughboy was dedicated.   It stands proudly in the park until this day, reminding the Village of their lost sons and the local artist who immortalized them.



New York Times, “A Sculptor Who is Also a Captain of Industry,” March 27, 1904. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F40716FB355F13718DDDAE0A94DB405B848CF1D3 (accessed September 30, 2013).

“Abingdon Square Monuments – Abingdon Square Doughboy : NYC Parks.” New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/abingdonsquare/monuments/1942 (accessed October 1, 2013).

Cauldwell, William . “Philip Martiny.” The Succesful American, January 1902.

Van Alfen, Peter. “Monuments, Medals, and Metropolis, part I: Beaux Arts Architecture.” ANS Magazine 2, no. 2 (2003): 17-23. http://ansmagazine.com/Summer03/Monuments (accessed September 29, 2013).

“War Memorials in Parks : NYC Parks.” New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/veterans#world-war-I (accessed October 1, 2013).

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Hi, my name is Emily Kramer. I am a first year master’s student of the Archives and Public History Program at New York University. I recently graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a degree in The History and Theory of Contemporary Art. I am interested in learning the ways in which technology, historical research and record making interact. In relation to my undergraduate studies, I am particularly focused on digital history in relation to popular culture, social media, and the contemporary arts.

I am currently involved with a project involving the archives of a 1949 symposium entitled, The Western Round Table on Modern Art. The material charts a three day discussion on production, display, and understanding of art during the era. Luminaries such as Marcel Duchamp, Frank Lloyd Wright and Kenneth Burke are among the panel members, contributing to its historical importance. The material is being collected, edited and contextualized and is in the final stages of pre-publication.

I’m relatively new to the field of archives and public history and I’m looking forward to learning more about how they function in the digital realm. I am hoping to find some interesting cross-overs between contemporary art theory and creating digital history.


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I am a Brooklyn native, a devoted Yankees fan and I REALLY love my puppy!  I am a Navy veteran; I was stationed in San Diego and deployed twice, first to South America and then to the Middle East.  I obtained my Associate’s in Social Science from San Diego City College before I separated from the military.   After my discharge, I moved to Fairfax, Virginia where I completed my undergraduate degree at George Mason University, receiving a Bachelors in History and a minor in Art History.  I am in my first year of NYU’s Archives and Public History Graduate Program and I am so excited to learn about the practices, theories and opportunities in Archives.

I have several interests, some stemming from my academic background and others from my cultural background.  I am interested in learning about how archives work in a museum, art museums in particular.  Because of my Caribbean background, I am also interested in archives projects that are working towards digitizing slave records both in the United States and the Caribbean.  I believe that the digitization of these records will help to answer questions that so many people have about their ancestry.

In the “Creating Digital History” class I am hoping to gain skills that will help me to become a contributing member to the field of Archives.

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