[APG Public List] [APG Members] place names

LBoswell laboswell at rogers.com
Mon Oct 25 10:34:54 MDT 2010

There are cases where all that's known at the current time is the general 
location.  A township, as you describe.  But it's still useful even if they 
only indicate a general area because you would then cite to the whole 
township, rather than a precise area within that township. It would be just 
as "precise" as indicating the township name alone, yet has the benefit of 
allowing someone to find where the township is exactly (on overlays or 
modern maps).

if you knew the exact location than the coordinates would be tagged to that 
precise location:

Jagger's Farm (footnote linked to coordinates), Anyplace Township, Whatever 
County, Wyoming, USA

If you only knew the township then the coordinates would be cited to that 
only.  Still would be useful information that could later be used/input into 
a variety of programs, overlays, modern maps.

I don't see any better way of getting around the problem of changing names, 
boundaries, jurisdictions.  One thing that's guaranteed is that no one is 
going to change lines of latitude and longitude no matter how the names etc 
change.  And all variations in names for a given place could be all tied to 
the same coordinates.

just because the GPS *can* be precise and point to an exact position on the 
planet, doesn't mean the coordinates can't also be used less precisely (to 
indicate a city, town, county etc). What part of the address carries the 
footnote would tell whether the coordinates were referring to a general 
location (town, township etc) or a very precise street address (for example)

There would have to be some rules worked out in how the coordinates were 
used and why, but they still offer something that remains unchanging and can 
also be used for multiple purposes later (directions, distances, charting 
movements over time etc)

Clients that I use them with really appreciate having them at hand

----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Michael John Neill
  To: LBoswell
  Cc: Stephen Danko ; Rolgeiger at aol.com ; apgmembersonlylist at apgen.org ; 
apgpubliclist at apgen.org
  Sent: Monday, October 25, 2010 11:55 AM
  Subject: Re: [APG Public List] [APG Members] place names

  I may be in the distinct minority, but I only use gps coordinates when I 
am certain I have a relatively precise location. For cemeteries and 
locations with addresses this works particularly well. If I know where a 
farm is at today, the same applies. For many places, the amount of accuracy 
I have is minimal and I'm not able to pinpoint where an event took place.

  My grandmother's 1910 birth only indicates the township in which she was 
born. In this instance, that's a square 6 miles on a side. I have no idea 
where in the township she was born (her father was a tenant farmer and I 
don't know the location where he rented). Various software and sites will 
assign coordinates to this location, but they are (in my opinion) 
arbitrarily precise. If I were to use coordinates (which I don't in this 
case), I would only indicate the four corners of the township.

  Use of GPS isn't the only scenario where more accuracy is assigned than is 

  Just my two cents.

  On Sun, Oct 24, 2010 at 9:15 AM, LBoswell <laboswell at rogers.com> wrote:

    Given multiple options to find and locate gps coordinates in 
longitude/latitude why not use the name as it appears in the document, then 
log it under longitude and latitude.

    Easy enough to find those coordinates simply from google maps.  Find the 
location of interest, or as close to the area as possible on google maps. 
Click on link (upper right hand corner next to 'print' and 'send'), and copy 
the result into a  text reader or even an email.

    Looks like this:

    The coordinates of interest above are the first ones 
54.996721,-1.663892.  Plugging those into the search line on google maps 
will take you to the location (in this case a street in Manchester, UK. 
Those coordinates will never change, unlike the constantly evolving names 
for same location.  Most genealogy programs will do the same thing.

    When we note a location why aren't we automatically adding the 
coordinates for the benefit of future researchers.  Also allows a client to 
pull up google maps and see exactly where the location is/was.  Or at least 
the closest modern approximation (if the street doesn't exist, you can 
normally locate its modern location on google maps by cross-referencing 
period sources like maps and gazetteers with the modern map).

    This has to be the way we go now, it's simply the most exact way to 
pinpoint a location (and it's independent of the past or current name). 
More importantly it can take you to a jurisdictional level location (where 
you select the central point of that jurisdiction and use those 
coordinates), or narrow down to a specific map location.  More often now you 
can then overlay that modern location on Google earth with a historical map 
and at the same time have the modern location right in front of you.  Future 
researchers will always know what location is being referred to, and it's 
independent of language.

    A way of noting locations that a) will never change in the future  b). 
allows a unified way to catalogue a location to its various name changes 
over time, and c). is independent of language preferences. Given the ease of 
finding the coordinates for any location on the planet, it just makes sense


  Michael John Neill
  Casefile Clues-Genealogy How-Tos
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