GB1900 project – first case study

The GB1900 project, to transcribe all the text from OS six inch to the mile maps of Great Britain from around 1900, is progressing well. Since launch in late September our 866 registered volunteers have between them done over 1.6million transcriptions, including just under half a million confirmations. Of course there is still much more to do and new volunteers are always welcome (

What can the GB1900 gazetteer be used for when it is complete? There are a number of different ways we have already thought of for how the data might be used, and we will explore some of them on the progress section of the GB1900 support site as the project continues. No doubt our volunteers will come up with other possibilities which we’d be pleased to hear about.

This first example case study is taken from Oxfordshire as the transcription and confirmation progress in this county is relatively well advanced, although not complete. Here we explore using the markers as a spatial index from which you could hang other historical information.


The map shows the registration county boundary in 1901 and the confirmed markers for schools existing in the county from the GB1900 map. Those marked as squares are the four identified Grammar Schools, those marked as triangles are Sunday Schools and the rest are circles. Some are named, but most are not.


According to the National Grammar School Association website Oxfordshire no longer has any Grammar schools so you could look at the general picture of the consolidation and movement of school premises over the past 100 years. You could use the gazetteer information as a starting point for investigating the history of particular schools, or possibly to help you explore the career of individual schoolmasters by plotting the locations of the schools they worked in. Alternatively you might be interested in religious education and the number and locations of Sunday schools identified in particular buildings on the map is in stark contrast to the picture today when most are held in more general community spaces rather than special purpose buildings.

Of course the basic information in the GB1900 gazetteer is simply a location and a text string identifying a feature at that location at a particular point in time. It will not give you any more details about the history of that feature or location. However, it does give you a list of features in a particular location and their relationship to the real world for use as an index towards exploring the local history related to that place in more depth.

About Paula

Senior Research Associate on the Great Britain Historical GIS Project, the team behind the website 'A Vision of Britain through Time'
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