Anne Kelly Knowles

Co-founder, Holocaust Geographies Collaborative

Research Interests
Historical geography
Historical GIS, Geovisualization, and Digital Humanities
The Holocaust
Nineteenth-century United States
Intersections of economy, technology, and culture and their expression in the landscape

As an historical geographer, I am endlessly interested in the relationship between historical events, ways of life, how places evolve, geographical circumstances, and spatial connections. I have studied what moved Welsh people to emigrate to the United States, why American entrepreneurs struggled to match the productivity of the British iron industry, and a few of the many geographies of the Holocaust. For me, every study begins with questions of why certain things happened in some places and not others; how local conditions influenced people’s decisions; and how human actions shaped the built and natural landscape. I also have an abiding interest in finding methodological solutions to intellectual problems and in fostering productive, creative collaboration among scholars and students. Building bridges across disciplines has been a hallmark of my career.

After studying English and American literature as an undergraduate, I worked for years as a book editor in New York and Chicago. In the mid-1980s I happened to discover historical geography while editing a new U.S. history textbook with an ambitious map program. It changed my life. I received my PhD in Geography from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993 and took up my first teaching position that year in the Institute of Earth Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. There I taught primarily in Welsh, a beautiful language that I had learned to research 19th-century Welsh immigration for my dissertation. A postdoctoral fellowship at Wellesley College lured me back to the USA. A few years in the American wilderness followed, during which I began to focus on the potential of using GIS (geographic information systems) in historical research and teaching. In 2002 when I was hired into a tenure-track position in the Geography Department at Middlebury College, where I taught for thirteen years. I joined the Department of History at the University of Maine in August 2015.

Major Fellowships, Grants, and Awards

Guggenheim Fellowship (2015)

John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Award, Association of American Geographers (2014).

American Ingenuity Award for Historical Scholarship, Smithsonian magazine (2012).

National Science Foundation Collaborative Research Grant, Holocaust Historical GIS, with Alberto Giordano as fellow PI (2008 – 2011).

National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship (2005).

American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship (1999).


2014    Lead editor, with Tim Cole and Alberto Giordano, Geographies of the Holocaust, (Indiana University Press).

2013    Mastering Iron: The Struggle to Modernize an American Industry, 1800-1868, (University of Chicago Press).

2008    Editor, Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship, digital

supplement edited by Amy Hillier (ESRI Press).

2002    Editor, Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History (ESRI Press).

1997    Calvinists Incorporated: Welsh Immigrants on Ohio’s Industrial Frontier (University of Chicago Press).

Referred Journal Issues

2005    Guest editor, Emerging Trends in Historical GIS, Historical Geography 33.

2000    Guest editor, Historical GIS: The Spatial Turn in Social Science History, Social Science History 24:3.

Referred Journal Articles, Book Chapters, and Encyclopedia Entries

2017    “HGIS and the American Iron Industry,” in The Routledge Handbook of Spatial History, edited by Donald

DeBats and Ian Gregory (New York: Routledge, 2018): 136-151.

2016    “Historical GIS and Social Science History,” Social Science History 40(4): 741-750. DOI:

2016    “Interview with Anne Knowles, Tim Cole, Alberto Giordano, and Paul Jaskot,” in Probing the Ethics of

Holocaust Culture, edited byClaudio Fogu, Wulf Kansteiner and Todd Presner (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press): 240-256.

2015    “Inductive Visualization: A Humanistic Alternative to GIS,” with Levi Westerveld and Laura Strom, GeoHumanities 1(2): 233-65.

DOI 10.1080/2373566X.2015.1108831.

2015    “A Research-Based Model for Digital Mapping and Art History: Notes from the Field,” with Paul B. Jaskot,

Andrew Wasserman, Stephen Whiteman, and Benjamin Zweig, ArtL@s Bulletin 4:1, Article 5. Available online at

2015    “Historians and Maps,” The History of Cartography, vol. 6, Cartography in the Twentieth Century, edited by

Mark Monmonier (University of Chicago Press): 597 – 601.

2015    “Historical Geography and Cartography,” The History of Cartography, vol. 6, Cartography in the Twentieth

Century, edited by Mark Monmonier (University of Chicago Press): 603 – 7.

2014    “Geographies of the Holocaust,” with Alberto Giordano and Tim Cole, in Geographies of the Holocaust

(Indiana University Press), pp. 1-17.

2014    “Mapping the SS Concentration Camps,” with Paul B. Jaskot, and Benjamin Perry Blackshear, Michael De

Groot, and Alexander Yule, in Geographies of the Holocaust (Indiana University Press), pp. 18 – 50.

2014    “Killing on the Ground and in the Mind: The Spatialities of Genocide in the East,” with Waitman Wade

Beorn, in Geographies of the Holocaust (Indiana University Press), pp. 88 – 118.

2014    “Visualizing the Archive: Building at Auschwitz as a Geographic Problem,” with Paul B. Jaskot and

Chester Harvey, and Benjamin Perry Blackshear, in Geographies of the Holocaust (Indiana University Press), pp. 158 – 191.

2009    “Geographies of the Holocaust,” with Waitman Beorn, Tim Cole, Simone Gigliotti, Alberto Giordano,

Anna Holian, Paul B. Jaskot, Marc Masurovsky, and Erik B. Steiner, Geographical Review 99:4, 563-74.

2008    “GIS and History,” in Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are  Changing Historical Scholarship (ESRI Press): 1 – 26.

2008    “What Could Lee See at Gettysburg?” in Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing

Historical Scholarship (ESRI Press): 235 – 265.

2008    “Conclusion: An Agenda for Historical GIS,” with Amy Hillier and Roberta Balstad, in Placing History: How

Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (ESRI Press): 267 – 73.

2006    “Geography, Timing, and Technology: A GIS-Based Analysis of Pennsylvania’s Iron Industry, 1825-1875,”

with Richard G. Healey, Journal of Economic History 66:3, 608-34.

2006    “‘The white hands ‘damn them . . . won’t stick’: Labor Scarcity and Spatial Discipline in the Antebellum

Iron Industry,” Journal of Historical Geography 32:1, 57-73.

2006    “Welsh,” The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia, edited by Richard Sisson, Christian Zacher,

and Andrew Cayton (Indiana University Press): 205.

2005    “Emerging Trends in Historical GIS,” Historical Geography 33, 7-13.

2005    “Bibliography of Works in Print on Historical GIS,” Historical Geography 33, 155-58.

2004    “Welsh,” The Encyclopedia of Chicago History, edited by James R. Grossman, Janice Reiff, and Ann

Durkin Keating (Chicago: The Newberry Library and University of Chicago Press): 868.

2002    “Wheeling Iron and the Welsh: A Geographical Reading of ‘Life in the Iron Mills,’” in Ronald Lewis

and Kenneth Fones-Wolf, eds., Transnational West Virginia: Ethnic Work Communities during the Industrial Era

(Morgantown: West Virginia University Press): 216-41.

2002    “Introducing Historical GIS,” in Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History (ESRI Press): xi-xx.

2001    “Afterword: Historical Geography since 1987,” in Thomas F. McIlwraith and Edward K. Muller, eds.,

North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing  Continent, 2nd ed. (London: Rowman and Littlefield): 465-70.

2001    “Labor, Race, and Technology in the Confederate Iron Industry,” Technology and Culture 42:1, 1-26.

2000    “Introduction,” Historical GIS: The Spatial Turn in Social Science History, Social Science History 24, 451-70.

2000    “A Case for Teaching Geographic Visualization without GIS,” Cartographic Perspectives 36, 24-37.

2000    “Mapping Wisconsin,” Geographical Review 90:2, 277-84.

2000    “Alma Mater: Cartographic Portraits of Wellesley College,” Mercator’s World 5,  40-45.

1999    “Migration, Nationalism, and the Construction of Welsh Identity,” in Nested Identities, edited by

Guntram Herb and David Kaplan (Boulder, Col.: Rowman & Littlefield), 289-315.

1998    “The Structure of Rural Society in Northern Cardiganshire, 1800-1850,” in Cardiganshire County

History, vol. 3, Cardiganshire in Modern Times, edited by Leuan Gwynedd Jones and Geraint H. Jenkins

(Cardiff: University of Wales Press): 76-93.

1997    “Religious Identity as Ethnic Identity: Welsh Settlement in Waukesha County,Wisconsin,” in Wisconsin

Land and Life, edited by Robert C. Ostergren and Thomas Vale (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press): 282-99.

1995    “Immigrant Trajectories through the Rural-Industrial Transition in Wales and the United States, 1795-1850,”

Annals of the Association of American Geographers 85:2,  246-66.

1993    “Charcoal Iron and the Welsh in Southern Ohio, 1850-1880,” Historical Geography 23: 33-43.

Digital Publications

2014    TED-ED Talk, “A Digital Reimagining of Gettysburg,”

2013    “A Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg,”


Other Publications

2017    “Architecture and Maps, Databases and Archives: An Approach to Institutional History and the Built

Environment in Nazi Germany,” with Paul B. Jaskot, The Iris: Behind the Scenes at the Getty, edited by Anne

Helmreich, Murtha Baca, and Emily Pugh (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum), posted online February 15,

2017, at

2016    “A More Humane Approach to Digital Scholarship” (invited), Parameters: Knowledge Under Digital

Conditions,Social Science Research Council, posted August 3, 2016, at

2015-2016  Contributing creator to Women in Cartography exhibition, Osher Map Library, University of

Southern Maine and Boston Public Library.

2014    “Why We Must Make Maps: Historical Geography as a Visual Craft,” Historical Geography 42 (2014):

3 – 26. Distinguished Historical Geographer lecture.

2014    “What Inspired Mastering Iron?” text box in North American Odyssey: Historical Geographies for the

Twenty-First Century (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), p. 372.

2014    “The Contested Nature of Historical GIS,” review essay, International Journal of Geographic Information

Science 28:1, 206 – 11.

2014    “Foreword,” Jamestown to Appomattox: Mapping US History with GIS, by Chris Bunin and Christine

Esposito (n.p.: Carte Diem): 9.

2013    With Paul B. Jaskot and Chester Harvey, “Visualizing Auschwitz: ‘Placing History’ with GIS Technology,”

Box 6.5 in Architectural Research Methods, 2nd ed., edited by Linda Groat and David Wang (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley), 207 – 9.

2011    With Ian N. Gregory, “Using Historical GIS to Understand Space and Time in the Social, Behavioural,

and Economic Sciences: A White Paper for the NSF,” National Science Foundation Directorate for the Social,

Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, sbe_2020/index.cfm.

2006    “Historical GIS and Historical Geography,” Past Place, vol. 14:2, 3-5.

2004    “Taking a Long View of Globalization,” Past Place 12:1, 4-5.

1999    “Envisioning History,” review essay, Historical Geography 27, 225-29.

For a full CV, please contact me at