Histograph: geocoding places of the past

Previous year's Nominees


Our cultural heritage is a rich source of open data about places and events in time. Metadata and digital objects are meticulously collected, curated and annotated by specialists in museums, archives and libraries all over the world. The availability of these historical data is increasing fast but collections remain hard to search geographically.

Enter Histograph: a historical geocoder for search and standardization of place names throughout history. For example, people used different names for the city of The Hague: ’s-Gravenhage, Vander Haegen, Haga Comitis, Den Haege, La Haye, De Haach, In den Haige, Schravenhaegen and ‘t Haagie. Histograph collects and links place names and uses these to georeference and standardize place names in time; currently, sources used include birth places of Dutch East India Company crew members, monastery records and historical census data.


Histograph uses Neo4j and Elasticsearch to expose a web of interlinked toponyms - in space and time. These are made searchable through an API; and web applications enable geo-temporal search, visualization and analysis for librarians and archivists.

Histograph is part of Erfgoed & Locatie (Heritage & Location), a cooperation of DEN Foundation, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Bibliotheek.nl and Waag Society.

Waag Society

Waag Society

Sint Antoniesbreestraat 69
1011 HB Amsterdam