As a PhD student in the History Department researching the Low German Mennonite network in Latin America, I am found it pertinent to create an interactive map of the Mennonite colonies throughout Latin America. Working with Jay Bowen, we have begun to create a virtual map with the datasets developed by Dr. le Polain de Waroux on the expansion of Mennonite colonies in Latin America. Dr. le Polain de Waroux, a geographer based out of McGill University, has created massive datasets open sourced for anyone to use on the following websites.
I have already discussed this possibility with Dr. le Polain de Waroux, and he was completely open to the idea. He has even told me that once he returns from vacation by the end of June, he will send me unpublished updates to his datasets that I can include in the virtual map. I think this is something that is very doable that would be incredibly useful for Mennonite historians, sociologists and geographers in addition to Digital Humanities scholars in general.
At first, we input the data into a QGIS mapping software to check if the datasets would function properly. After everything worked well. We input the data into Visual Studio Code. The initial map is now hosted on my Github page. On Visual Studio Code, we are still tweaking the map to include several map leaflets (geographic, openstreetview, political, etc.), adding a time slider, and adding a popup menu of colony demographics. Furthermore, I hope to include links on the popup menus to entries from the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, gameo.org. to each colony to provide an easy source to access to understand each individual colony—for example Fernheim Colony:
The main problem that I have run into this aspect is that about 180 of the 230 colonies have no entries in the encyclopedia. To remedy this lacuna, I emailed the editor of the online encyclopedia, Alf Redekopp, to see if I could send him brief stub articles for each new colony to produce the urls for each colony. I could then include these urls as a hyperlink within the popup menu. To this end, I have created 180 stub articles for the encyclopedia. I am currently waiting for the editor to review these stub articles and publish them in order for me to include their urls in the dataset for each colony. Summer is a busy time for gameo as scholars tend to make updates to it during their summer break.
In the meantime, I still have work to do tweaking the interactive map, but the project is overall making good progress. If all goes well, this project will be completed by the end of the summer and could be hypothetical used in the fall semester for any class concerning migration in Latin America in addition to aiding me in developing my dissertation concerning the Mennonite colonies in Latin America.