||Czech Historical Atlas represents a project under which historical maps of the Czech lands and Central Europe arise in the coming years. There are two main project outputs planned. A web atlas dedicated to history of the Czech lands from prehistoric times to the recent past will be the first. The second important output is comprised of a printed atlas focused on Czech twentieth century history. The aim of the new atlas is to build on previous historical atlases – such as the Academic Atlas of Czech History (2014) or earlier post-war works of Czechoslovak cartography – and to access latest research results of historians in the form accessible to experts, teachers, students and other users interested in history. Within the project, the Institute of History (Czech Academy of Sciences) and the Czech Technical University in Prague are involved. Both organizations bring together collaboration of historians, geographers, cartographers and geoinformaticists from a number of other institutions. In the paper, a preparation stage of the Czech Historical Atlas is presented.
A search for existing atlases with historical content is one of the steps in the preparatory phase. For this search, a special database has been designed. Its structure reflects not only the thematic focus of searched atlases but also the subsequent short list of atlases which show the studied area (Central European region with emphasis on the former Czechoslovakia or contemporary Czechia, respectively), and supposed solutions for both versions of the atlas. The aim of this background research was to create a knowledge base for the conception of the atlas performed in the next step.
The atlas conception is based on the needs of target group of users. Maps will be complemented by short texts, which describe map topic, and photographs, graphs, tables, historical documents images etc. The effort is to create a user-friendly output. For example, the printed atlas of 20th century will not be too large and bulky. Thematic, geographic and temporal interconnectivity will be ensured within web versions of the maps too. Besides the Czech language, English translation of accompanying texts is planned.
In parallel with the concept design, historical and history-geographical preparative works were held. This included search in other sources of information in libraries and archives. The atlas conception and activities of historians and geographers have resulted in collection of topic drafts of possible maps, which are stored in a database shared on-line. In this database, data such as thematic, geographic and historical classification, data availability, content guarantors or information about accompanying materials is recorded.
In connection with the proposals for map topics of both versions of the atlas, it is worth noting some methodological assumptions. Maps from previous projects developed in partnership with the Institute of History and Czech Technical University in Prague – e.g. the Academic Atlas of Czech History – will be used there. Available databases of all contributors or third parties – like Research Centre for Cultural and Historical Geography (Charles University) – will also be used. Completely new topics such as the issue of justice, recreation, leisure and everyday life, boundary changes, landscape changes will be handled as well.
Likewise, the choice of technology for web maps is an important conceptual issue. This will be determined after the evaluation of selected map topics and background research for proprietary and open-source solutions to access maps on the Internet.
With such an extensive and interdisciplinary project like the Czech Historical Atlas, the preparatory phase is crucial. However, time consuming preparation streamlines the process of creation and post-production arrangement of cartographic outputs.