Most people here know me for being a geo geek, working on Maps and Earth. But many of you don't know that my first love was history. I got my first Master's in history before pursuing a career in tech. And since much of my early studies of history had to do with maps, whenever I find a historical map I get really excited. Pamela's post on Time-Based Maps shows some of the power of Maps mashups. But history, despite what you may have learned in high school, isn't just about dates. So I selected a few of my favorite historical data visualizations to show you here.


This is an amazing map, which allows you to view a ton of different data. It includes layers for ethnographic surveys from different years, language differences, economic data points, historic maps of Africa layered on using GTileOverlay, and much more. And best of all, you can add more than one layer at once.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys was a 17th Century British Member of Parliament and naval administrator, in London. He left a rich diary about an important time in British history and his participation in it. The diary is being gradually released as daily blog, and there's an accompanying map of important places in the diary. There's a nice implementation of custom infowindows. And in the Encyclopedia many of the entries have maps.

LookBack Maps

LookBack Maps puts historic photos onto a map. It allows users to add photos and geolocate them. When you click on a marker, you get the photo and some data about it. If you click on details, it takes you to a page that has a StreetView of the photo's location. It's a nice mashup of how things are now and how they were.

Google Lit Trips

This site has KML files that give insights into cultural history. The trips aim to show that "...literature can act as a kind of map and has a profound effect on the ways in which a culture imagines its place in the known world." From a map of the locations in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, to a map of Virgil's Aeneid, these trips provide interesting perspectives to a reader often less familiar with the part of the world referenced in the work.

Global Paleogeographic Views

Valery Hronusov created this great view of the movement of continents in Google Earth by putting TimeSpan elements in KML GroundOverlays. This one has been around for awhile, but shows both Valery's creativity and the power of using time in KML.
Geography is such an important part of history. There has been a lot of great work done with Google's Geo APIs, and I think there's room for much more. If you're interested in more historical sites, check out the history maps label on Google Maps Mania.
Posted by Mano Marks, Geo APIs Team