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

Michael Hait michael.hait at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 31 22:17:16 MDT 2010

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 Earth.  
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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