[APG Public List] Actual Physical Location

Michael Hait michael.hait at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 1 17:51:14 MDT 2010

I think we are definitely talking past each other, because (Larry) you do not seem to be answering our objections.  We are all in agreement, it would seem, about the importance of being able to locate the area where something was, and which repository would therefore hold those records.  This determination has nothing to do with the coordinates of the location.

You even proved the same case in your example below.  All of the parishes in the greater London area are in the same repository today.  To determine whether or not a specific parish is held in that repository or some other, you would have to know where the parish boundaries were.  Then to determine if a particular family was in these records, you would have to know where the family was in relation to the parish boundaries.  A historic map and descriptions of the family’s lands and the parish borders are all you need to know for this determination.  This is our point exactly.

To get the coordinates, you would have to do all of this, then look up the coordinates for that location.  Regardless of how easy this step may be, it is still an unnecessary step.  And unnecessary information that adds nothing to the research process, in my opinion.

Just my $0.02, (probably a dime by now)

Michael Hait
michael.hait at hotmail.com

From: LBoswell 
Sent: Monday, November 01, 2010 7:39 PM
To: Ray Beere Johnson II ; APG Posting 
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Actual Physical Location

Ray, I probably have picked that up along the way.  But the only way you know which artificial boundaries apply is to know where a specific location is.  That's genealogy research 101.

Do you do any British research?  What you describe is common there. 

I strongly disagree that knowing locations and how they relate to both the jurisdictional and geographic "landscape" isn't critical to successful, complete research outcomes (both those "landscapes"). 

London has been rearranged many times by fire and other factors.  The Blitz wiped out many churches, reduced whole areas to rubble. But that doesn't change the historical location which can still be pinpointed. Doesn't matter if it was levelled, or a mountain turned into a valley.  In it's own time period it was there, and that's the period that's been reconstructed.  Knowing where that historic location is now can tell you what modern (or relatively modern) repository holds the records from the location before mountain became valley.  Most parish registers for churches in the Greater London area are on deposit at the London metropolitan library, but so are others from neighbouring counties outside of Greater London.  Far from the church that originally created them.  But I only know they're in London now if I know the location was in one of those stray parishes.

I can only think we must be all talking past each other. This is fundamental stuff here.


----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Ray Beere Johnson II 
  To: APG Posting 
  Sent: Monday, November 01, 2010 4:08 PM
  Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Actual Physical Location

       For most of our research, the one thing we are most interested in finding is _records_. Those are found by knowing artificial boundaries, not actual physical location. There are German records - ones captured in wartime - in the US National Archives. They are nowhere near the actual physical location where they were created.
       Even if we could somehow overlay old maps over modern ones and determine the precise actual physical location in a vast shopping centre parking lot where great-great-grandpa's farmhouse once stood, what will all that effort give us? We won't even know if the house once stood on top of a hill or sat at the bottom of a valley, because the land may have been leveled when it was turned into a parking lot.
       Yes, there are times when you do want to know the actual physical location. I am not saying it is always bad. I _am_ saying that for _any_ researcher to allow themselves to become too focused on any one thing will _always_ - sooner or later - lead them astray. That is true whether you are talking of actual physical location, the name of the town, or any other detail. Don't get hung up on it.
       And I do still disagree with your original statement. My disagreement was not because I think knowing the actual physical location is never worthwhile. It was because I _do_ believe that the artificial boundaries are where the records are found - and records are at the heart of everything we do. So, for _that_ reason, I think that physical location is less central to our research than administrative divisions. Example: I'd find it far more useful to know "great-grandpa was born in X state" (where knowing the state would allow me to locate the records for that time period) than to know precisely where the farm where he was born was located, but have such a poor idea of _when_ that the record might be in any of a dozen different repositories. (I certainly am not saying we shouldn't check out every one of a dozen repositories if that's what we need to do, merely that knowing the repository is the real key to learning more in almost every situation.)
                                     Ray Beere Johnson II

  --- On Mon, 11/1/10, LBoswell <laboswell at rogers.com> wrote:

  > If establishing the "actual physical location" is meaningless, then why 
  > would you want to try and establish coordinates for it? There has to 
  > be some purpose for doing so that is perceived by the researcher. But 
  > in the case you describe then the family did live in one location. You 
  > might have been able to find more of that type of "record created in a 
  > nearby location" type of thing if you carefully used maps (whether 
  > establishing coordinates or not) and data tracking family and extended 
  > family.
  > If physical location and fact are going to be misleading then just like 
  > you would have to explain why the records were recorded in a one 
  > location, while the family lived in another location, _whether or not 
  > you also marked one or the other using a mapping tool_.

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