[APG Public List] [APG Members] place names

linda at fpr.com linda at fpr.com
Sat Oct 30 12:32:31 MDT 2010

I forgot to add my signature!   In the interest of full disclosure, so
you know it's me, although I suspect most already did, I submitted the
post below.

Linda Gardner

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Re: [APG Public List] [APG Members] place names
> From: <linda at fpr.com>
> Date: Sat, October 30, 2010 2:13 pm
> To: "John" <john at jytangledweb.org>
> Cc: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
> I wrote:
> > > Monday I had a team of physically capably family members searching for
> > > my 3g-grandmother's grave.  I had determined the cemetery, section, and
> > > with the help of the grounds manager had an anchor point relatively
> > > close to where her burial record says she's buried (3 rows and 4 graves
> > > over).   Of course no marker was obvious, even with some exploration of
> > > indentations that might have been fallen stones covered by grass.   So,
> > > for now Grandma Nancy's burial location is specified with a supposed
> > > accuracy of a 10'x10' area.  Hardly as satisfying as having a photo of a
> > > marker, or a specific GPS location, but galaxies ahead of what I knew
> John responded:
> > I don't mean to harp on this, but it is important to remember, current
> > GPS devices (that I own, anyway) only have an accuracy of +/-15 feet,
> > at best. That isn't quite as accurate as your 10'x10'. :-)
> > 
> Perhaps, but the 10X10 accuracy in actual physical location requires
> quite a bit more context detail describing the reference, in this case,
> not only the cemetery name and location, but section, row, grave number,
> explanation for that specific cemetery's reference system, cited to the
> cemetery's grounds manager, including the reference grave he provided,
> etc., etc.   All this to connect a burial record to a physical location
> in space.
> To me the intellectual appeal of latitude/longitude or GPS is the
> tantalizing thought that perhaps there's an useful universal reference
> system for all locations, so one can easily model spatial relationships.
>   Numbers are so appealing!   I do love them.   LOL   So, even if GPS
> descriptors in this case are less precise, their appeal would lie in the
> ease of use and communication to others, compared to my more elaborate
> explanation of where my Grandma Nancy's grave is located.   Of course, I
> do not have a GPS so it's a moot point, but if I did I think I would
> have taken a reading and recorded the info.   just in case.   GPS
> references require the user to also have a GPS, which may be an issue at
> this point in time, but less of an issue for future researchers.  For
> those with a GPS device, it certainly seems to be a useful "finding
> aid."   LOL   except in this situation where there *is no physical
> marker* just getting to the approximate location is not particularly
> useful because there's nothing to see directly representing the grave,
> one still would need the info about the reference grave, and the
> relative location to that reference.
> So, even though I'm highly attracted to the idea of
> GPS/latitude&longitude reference system I don't see the utility in this
> situation.  I would have recorded GPS info if I had such a device,
> though, which is an indication of my irrational affinity to
> measurements.
> This question of how this type of info is used is an issue.   
> Latitude/longitude seem useful when working with maps.  Is there any
> other context where that info is useful in our research?    GPS seems to
> be something useful for those who have the devices as they move through
> the physical world.
> More thoughts about the usefulness of this type of info as a universal
> reference system:
> -latitude&longitude are 2 of 4 dimensions.   It's a non-Euclidean
> reference system intended to describe the the earth's surface.   Missing
> are altitude and time.   I can imagine an easy way to add a time
> coordinate.    Altitude is less obvious (how I would know it, why I'd
> need it).   Guess if there were places at the same latitude/longitude at
> different altitudes (cities in the air or underground, for example, or
> what about archealogical/burial sites that have been built over) there
> might be a problem and this 3rd spatial dimension would become more
> necessary.
> -latitude&longitude describes spatial points.   I want to describe
> spatial areas and their relationships.   Seems like GPS
> coordinates/latitude & longitude are raw data for the larger spatial
> objects I really wish to use, those currently corresponding to the
> textual place names found in records and on maps.   
> -latitude&longitude reference system is already inadequate as a
> universal framework.   There are some humans, granted relatively few in
> number, currently spending extended time outside it, long enough so that
> it's very feasible that genealogical relevant events can take place
> outside this framework (literally not on the earth's surface, the space
> station for example).
> So, much as I find these numbers (like all numbers) very, very
> attractive in the context of my yearning for an universal, integrated
> physical model, bypassing those annoying text names with their spelling
> variations, irregularities and historical changes, I do not see any way
> around our primary reliance upon those names, historical and current,
> painstakingly researching the correspondence between all the variations,
> identifying boundary changes, figuring out what records were recorded
> where and when and where they ended up now.  Figuring out where my
> ancestors' property was by understanding who the neighbors were, the
> boundary roads, physical features, etc and carefully overlaying on old
> and current maps.  The latitude/longitude info may very well be imbedded
> in tools I use to accomplish these goals.  But for me, in my work, these
> coordinates would not be commonly necessary--they might in *some*
> situations be a useful add-on, as Larry and others have been saying,
> helpful to disambiguate same-name places, and helpful in locating places
> on maps or in the physical world, if for some reason there's some
> *finding aid* value-added on top of the other necessary location
> descriptors.   I think for those special cases I'll note the coordinates
> and where I got the coordinate info.  Not much different than what I'd
> do for any explanatory supplemental citation comment, unless Elizabeth
> or someone else develops a more thoughtful model.
> It's also why, when the question regarding how we deal with historical
> vs current place names in our writing & citations arises on this list
> and others, as it does with some regularity, I pay attention to the
> answers.  whether there is a "standard" or generally accepted practice. 
> If there were, this would definitely impact my presentation of my
> research
> I no longer feel the urgent need to go back and add latitude/longitude
> to my place descriptions.   ROFL.
> Linda

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