Summer Student Val Flores Zambrano on Georeferencing

Summer Student Val Flores Zambrano on Georeferencing

My name is Val. I’m a History student in my fourth year. During the summer, I worked on georeferencing the many maps and air photos Mills Library has in the McMaster catalogue. It is incredibly interesting work, matching these documents going as far back as the 1920s to what the landscape looks like today.

I got to really see the ways cities, counties, and countries changed throughout the decades. For a history student, that kind of work is inspiring. I also got to familiarize myself with software I had never used before which was fascinating to do.

Topographical map of Hamilton

It is fun work. Say you have a picture; one an airplane took in the 1960s of the Hamilton & Burlington area. What can you see in the picture? Do you recognize certain streets? Can you see the waterfront or Jackson square? I get to use those kinds of landmarks to place the picture on top of today’s map and see how the area has changed over the years.

Maybe, instead of an air photo, you have map of Paris, or Belgium, or Germany, or Japan. You can see how cities have changed, or how much land has been lost to rising water levels.

That is what georeferencing is. It is not something most people are familiar with, but I’ve loved it. And I’m continuing to work on it this academic year.

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