I am building an interactive map project, that should draw a political map for any given year. Are there any open resources, that give access to such information? Maybe, as an array of points marking the borders, or the pictures, someway sorted year-by-year. Or, at least, the text list of the world's map changes over the time.

P.S. Yes, I know there already are some applications of the kind, but none of them is pleasant to use, they ain't beautiful and also cannot be used on mobile devices.

P.S.S. If the idea to find these data fails, I would draw the maps myself using some sort of computer drawing software over the scans of the different world atlases. However, as a programmer, I would like to have as little work as possible.

  • 2
    Our sister site Open Data Stack Exchange might be helpful. They seem to have a few "historical data" questions.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 9:45
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    depending on your timeframe, geological borders (coastlines, rivers ...) shifted too.
    – mart
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 13:49
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    Please update us when you are done… good luck!
    – o0'.
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 14:01
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    States were not always states, but most important for you, they were not always territorial states. High medievial period, you don't draw a map with poltiical boundaries, you draw a graph showing loyalties (and that will be a tangled mess).
    – mart
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 5:57

3 Answers 3


Harvard possesses one of the United State's largest collection of maps. Recently, they have been working on digitizing the collection. People who know how to use this kind of stuff can probably do a lot with the online Geospatial Library.

I went to a presentation given by Harvard's GIS team. If I ever find my notes, I'll expand this answer with the other resources they discussed.

  • any help would be great! would be glad if you'd found them
    – caffeinum
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 13:50

The kind of software you are trying to make exists:


It is quite convenient and detailed, and covers the period for which sufficient data are available. But it is not free.

EDIT. To address some concerns expressed in comments. This is the web page of the person who made this software. I know him personally and the page is around for more than 10 years. I know that the Naval Academy purchased and used this software for teaching purposes. I suppose he has a free demo which covers the period of Napoleonic wars.

Remark. I do not care whether this answers the question or not. If this information is not useful, and will be voted down I will delete it.

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    First, this doesn't answer the question. Second, when you include a link, we encourage you to summarize the key points of the referenced page(s) and how they answer the question. This guards against link-rot, reduces the chance of rick rolling and enables readers to determine whether the link represents a line of research that is interesting.
    – MCW
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:21
  • Link-only answers are bad, but… this is not a link-only answer. How could he say more than "this software exists, it does that"? Sure he could post a few screenshots, those would make the answer better, but in its current state it definitely isn't "link-only".
    – o0'.
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:48
  • That being said, that software is… "ancient" at best. "The software requires 20 megabytes of hard disk space and 40 megabytes of memory"
    – o0'.
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:50
  • Well, thanks, I've seen this software while wandering around internet looking for analogs. However, I'd like to build an application, which is: a) open-source b) translatable c) multi-platform, so it could be used for any history lesson around the world.
    – caffeinum
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 9:19
  • This application in not upgradable or forkable. If anyone thinks of nice improvement, he could do nothing. Anyway, is there some way to contact the person, the creator, and adhere to the work on his project, porting it and translating?
    – caffeinum
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 9:23

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