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The Institute of Historical Research: Layers of London

Who are they?

The Institute of Historical Research (IHR), founded in 1921, is one of the nine institutes that comprise the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.

The Institute is dedicated to nurturing relationships between the university and the local London community, and is a leading creator of digital resources for historical education.


Image from the IHR website.

What was the challenge?

The IHR wanted to build an online learning resource that made hundreds of priceless, fragile, antique maps accessible and explorable for everyone. With phase one beginning in 2016, the Layers of London (LOL) project set out to be one of the most ambitious public history projects in British history.

The platform needed to be easy to use,  capable of hosting a huge amount of information, and visually appealing. Error Agency (Humap’s second-cousin-once-removed company) tendered for the contract, won, and built LOL Version 1 (left). It launched in 2018 to rave reviews, but by 2020 was in need of an update.

That’s where we come in…

LOL moved onto the new Humap platform in 2021, and soon after that began crowdsourcing even more history through our user-generated content feature.

At time of writing, LOL has 11,695 records, 388 collections, and 62 overlays.

Partner institutions include:

Why Humap?

Our (fully tutorialised) user-generated content feature made crowdsourcing London’s history easier and more enjoyable than ever, and the huge quantity of records on LOL really demonstrates the desire the public have to be involved in the process of place-making.

Co-curating is made simpler, too, giving LOL‘s partner institutions a platform to pool their resources together to create a unified, engaging digital resource and asset. Free from hosting and maintenance, the LOL team can focus on nurturing relationships and making history and heritage accessible to everyone.


Want to know more about Humap for academic research? Check out our use case page.

Want to know more about the project? Check out their 2020 impact report.

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