[APG Public List] APGPublicList Digest, Vol 12, Issue 38

L. Boswell laboswell at rogers.com
Mon Nov 1 08:13:26 MDT 2010

Sorry, maybe I'm missing something here, but I wouldn't say the physical 
location is less important than the artificial boundaries.  How do you know 
which boundaries apply if you haven't established the actual physical location 
first (or early on in the research process)?  I'd say it's fundamentally 
important on so many levels that I'd have to write a book length reply.

And recording it using applicable names and degrees latitude/longitude just adds 
another tool to the research bag.  Also makes life easier when you return to a 
file that you haven't worked on for an extended period of time.  

And topographical features are of paramount importance when addressing the 
family 'history' of individuals.  The records that we have are often just 
secondary considerations in their lives, where their lives intersected with some 
official purpose for a fleeting moment.  Their day to day lives are more likely 
to be revealed or explained in terms of the physical features of the landscape 
that they lived in and interacted with on a daily basis.  We cannot gain very 
much of their 'history' from the records, but we can tease out a lot more by 
understanding what might have had a day-to-day impact on their lives.  And 
really the physical location is where you start that process, not the 
jurisdictional boundaries, not the record creating bodies.  What might have 
effected how they lived their real lives.  Top of the agenda there is where did 
they live.  Pinpointing the physical location is of fundamental importance.  


From: Michael Hait <michael.hait at hotmail.com>
To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
Sent: Mon, November 1, 2010 12:17:16 AM
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] APGPublicList Digest, Vol 12, Issue 38

This has been an interesting discussion, especially since I have little  
knowledge of the GPS system.
However, here is my argument “against it being useful.”  If we are  talking 
about the precise location of a gravestone, then I can definitely see  the 
benefit of having GPS coordinates.  That is a given, so please  understand that 
I am not referring to this situation at all.
Fortunately, gravestones are one of the least of the records that we use in  
much of the research we do.  In none of the other research we do would  these 
coordinates be important or even useful.
As genealogists, dealing with records created by various bodies whether  civil, 
religious, private, or otherwise, the physical location of a place (i.e.  
latitude/longitude) is less important than the artificial boundaries established  
by these record-creating institutions.  The physical location does not  change, 
but it says nothing of where one would need to find records.  The  civil borders 
of towns, counties, and even states change over time, the borders  of church 
parishes, dioceses, etc., change over time, and families move over  time.  
Pinpointing them on a map to this degree of accuracy is less  important than 
locating them in relation to the historic county boundaries,  historic parish 
boundaries, etc.  Knowledge of local geography (esp.  watercourses), history and 
laws is what helps us locate the records that we  use.
Other than the aforesaid gravestone situation, in what way can the GPS  
coordinates be considered EVIDENCE? (This is not a rhetorical question, but an  
honest inquiry.)

Michael  Hait
michael.hait at hotmail.com
From: James Burnett 
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2010 7:02 PM
To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org 
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] APGPublicList Digest, Vol 12, Issue  38
  John.  I Certainly second every thing you are saying about using coordinates 
to convey  location of ancesteral  items of interest.  I don't understand the  
arguments against it being useful or accurate.  To those who don't have a  
Navigator you don't need one.  Since all of those participating in this  
discussion have a computer you actually do have a navigator. It is  called  
Google  Earth and by the way you get altitude along with lat and long with  no 
additional effort. I am not looking for the accuracy to permit me to drop a  
basketball down a well.  Just get me within a hundred feet and my eyes and  feet 
will take care of the rest because I will have looked at google earth and  know 
what I am looking for. How much simpler can it get?  To be perfectly  honest I 
would think that any genealogist that is doing work outside of the  library 
would be expected to use coordinates to define locations today.  I  certainly 
take them and if I forget my navigator I bet you can guess what I  use--Google 

A perfect example is a gravesite that I have been  trying to locate for several 
years.  I have a picture of it taken in  1995.  I have a location written in 
1933. Given the remote location and the  road changes that have occurred we have 
not located that site yet--the  photographer died without leaving any further 
description.  Lat and Long  would have been fabulous to have. This just seems 
such a nobrainer to me I can  not understand the reluctance to accept. 

I would also say it does not matter  if the older couple you are writing the 
report for understand how to use them or  not, their grandchildren would. 
Reports are both for the customer and anyone  else that reads it. 

Enuff said as I navigate from 28 Deg North, 80 Deg  West.
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