What is a database? A database is an organized collection of records presented in a standardized format that can be searched on a computer. The Orbis catalog is a database, as is the ATLA Religion Database.
When you search in a database what you are doing is searching through records that represent and describe some other object, such as a book, an article, a collection of facts. When you search in the ORBIS catalog, for example, you are not searching within the books themselves, but instead you are searching through records that have been created to describe the books (and other items) within the collections of the Yale libraries. The record provides you with information about an item, such as its author, what it is about, and where it can be found.
There are a number of electronic databases that provide geographical information. A complete list of all databases available at Yale is available through the Databases & Article Searching page on the library's web site. Recommended geographical databases that are helpful for religious studies are listed below.
The Columbia Gazetteer of the World includes every incorporated place and county in the United States, along with several thousand unincorporated places, special-purpose sites, and physical features. There are approximately 165,000 entries. Historically noteworthy locations, such as archeological and biblical sites and ancient cities, towns, trade routes, and geographic features are included.
Oxford Islamic Studies Online includes over 40 full-color maps from the latest edition of the Atlas of the World's Religions. Designed to support teaching and learning about global Islam, this page is thematically organized to cover the development and presence of Islam from its origins to the present day. To access, under Learning Resources, select Geography of the Islamic World.
The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) provides data on churches and church membership, religious professionals, and religious groups (individuals, congregations and denominations), including GIS maps of congregations and demographics.