Official Publication No. 69 (2018)

Preserving the Geographical Production Process

This report is the final report of the EuroSDR-project “Preserving the Geographical Production Process”. In two one day workshops (spread over two days) and one postconference workshop at the first annual conference of the International Council on Archives (ICA, since 1948) we have investigated the problem of the fading away of knowledge on the geographical production process, identified initiatives in Europe that preserve crucial parts of the geographical production process and the need for further awareness raising and a European forum for further cooperation, as:

  • we share a common history of the geographical production process (although not always happening at the same speed),
  • different parts of that history are preserved throughout Europe,
  • the awareness of the need to preserve the geographical production process – in order to understand our geographical products today and in the future – is not sufficient by many of the producers and could be improved by a forum,
  • local preservation initiatives lack a European, collaborative, cross-domain (NMCAs, libraries, archives and museums) approach that could avoid multiplication of the same efforts (such as the design of a database) on institutional and country level, which is in many cases hampering the preservation process.


This report describes the project, presents the conclusions and contains the main deliverables of the project, which are:

  • Two workshop reports
  • Raised awareness amongst others at the relevant umbrella organisations: EuroGeographics, International Council on Archives (ICA) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA)
  • International Council on Archives first Annual Conference post-conference workshop to grow awareness in the global, archival community of geographical information (the data itself, the preservation of its production process, and as instrument to open-up archival information)
  • An overview of the scattered preservation initiatives related to National Mapping Agencies (NMAs) throughout Europe
  • Books (“Cartography. Vision on the map” (2016) for Dutch speaking archivists, and a chapter on “Evolution in Knowledge and Technology” in a book about Historical Cartography (in prep.))
  • Inherent to the project, new initiatives on the preservation of the geographical production process, including
    - a cooperation between the University of Gent and the National Mapping Agency of Belgium that digitized and inventoried documentation and objects, and documented working processes by replaying and recording old working processes
    - ongoing work on a standard to describe witnesses (items, objects, …) of the geographical production process by the Royal Military Academy of Belgium, UGent, and the NGI-Belgium with the aim to develop a standard that could suit international cooperation
    - the inheritance by the UGent from Alan Wright of his extensive collection of survey instruments. This collection not only outlines the important innovations in the geodetic instruments after WWII, but is also a reflection of a remarkable life in service of science
    - an exhibition (2017) titled “Pushing the Boundaries” on the Wright-Draper collection of geodetic instruments in the Science Museum of Gent University
    - an overview of institutions, societies, people, and their ‘local’ initiatives, as a starting point for collaboration
    - a refined and reworked standard from the Royal Military Academy for the description of objects and documentation that could be potentially used as starting point for a European, collaborative database