[APG Public List] [APG Members] place names

linda at fpr.com linda at fpr.com
Wed Oct 27 08:17:05 MDT 2010

I'm with James on his earlier reply.

I'm not sure I see how use of GPS coordinates has much impact on the
discussion of current vs historical place names.   GPS descriptors are
an additional place qualification, and IMO they are very useful.   Names
and their associated boundary definitions + effective time period and
the correspondence between then and now... all that is still important
as they have been.  

I think the underlying conceptual problem in this discussion is that
people think it's desirable to have one, unique name/reference, perhaps
because of the implications suggested by genealogy software design. a
flawed priority, in my opinion.

Linda Gardner

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Re: [APG Public List] [APG Members]  place names
> From: "LBoswell" <laboswell at rogers.com>
> Date: Tue, October 26, 2010 9:31 am
> To: "Jacqueline Wilson" <wilssearch at gmail.com>, "apgpubliclist Posting"
> <apgpubliclist at apgen.org>, <apgmembersonlylist at apgen.org>
> excellent explanation.  I should have twigged to the idea that the 
> coordinates could be adjusted to refer to a larger area.  That removes one 
> of the problems about how to deal with something like an entire township or 
> a general area.
> Even more interesting, by adjusting the coordinates you could reference an 
> area that covered a couple of jurisdictional boundaries.
> Using coordinates as well as place names would take care of the argument as 
> to whether the historical or the modern name should be used.  It's an area 
> that needs some guidelines, and explanations like this are a step towards 
> establishing them
> Larry
>   ----- Original Message ----- 
>   From: Jacqueline Wilson
>   To: apgpubliclist Posting ; apgmembersonlylist at apgen.org
>   Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 8:59 AM
>   Subject: Re: [APG Public List] [APG Members] place names
>   Stephen - thank you for pointing out how GPS numbers are coded.  Learn 
> something new every day!
>   On Oct 26, 2010, at 1:29 AM, Stephen Danko wrote:
>   GPS coordinates can be specified so that they represent either a large 
> general area or a spot the size of a pinpoint.  It's all in how many 
> significant figures one lists in the coordinates.
>   The number of significant figures refers to the number of numerals in the 
> coordinate.  37.79507, -122.40280 has 7 significant figures in the N-S 
> coordinate (the first number) and 8 significant figures in the E-W 
> coordinate (the second number).  This is the location of the Transamerica 
> Pyramid in San Francisco.  Actually, it is the location of a part of the 
> Transamerica Pyramid.  This coordinate has so many significant figures that 
> it points to a very accurate location on the earth.  If the coordinate is 
> written as 37.8, -122.4, the area described becomes much larger and includes 
> anything between 37.75 to 37.84, -122.35 to -122.44.  Written as 
> 37.8, -122.4, the coordinates don't accurately specify the Transamerica 
> Pyramid, but instead specify about half of San Francisco.
>   Note that 37.8, -122.4 is not the same as 37.8000, -122.4000.  The first 
> set of coordinates gives a general location (the eastern half of San 
> Francisco) and the second set gives a very specific location (the corner of 
> Vallejo and Front Streets in San Francisco).
>   The latitude longitude system we use today is based on a prime meridian 
> through Greenwich, England.  Historically, different places used different 
> prime meridians (including prime meridians in Paris, Washington, D.C., and 
> Rio de Janeiro).  For genealogical purposes, all historic systems can be 
> ignored and we can use today's system with a prime meridian through 
> Greenwich because, as Larry pointed out, our goal in using latitude 
> longitude coordinates is to specify where a place is today, using today's 
> system.  Using GPS coordinates, Nicole (in a different thread) would have 
> immediately been able to find out where Grossendorf, Germany was, and she 
> would have immediately been able to see that the present name of the place 
> is Władysławowo, Poland.
>   True latitude/longitude coordinates are not exactly the same as GPS 
> coordinates.  This is because GPS uses the International Reference Meridian 
> which is 102.5 meters east of the Prime Meridian through the Royal 
> Observatory in Greenwich.  Don't worry about the reason for this difference. 
> Google Earth used GPS coordinates instead of true latitude longitude 
> coordinates, presumably so that GPS systems will match up with Google Earth.
>   In summary, GPS coordinates can be used to describe a very specific point 
> on the earth or a very general area of the earth depending on the number of 
> significant figures in the coordinates.
>   Kind regards,
>   Stephen J. Danko
>   http://www.stephendanko.com/
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>   From: Connie Sheets <clsheets1 at yahoo.com>
>   To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org; apgmembersonlylist at apgen.org
>   Sent: Mon, October 25, 2010 4:33:55 PM
>   Subject: Re: [APG Members] [APG Public List] place names
>   I must admit to only a general knowledge about, and frequent lack of 
> attention to, GPS coordinates.  I have been operating under the assumption 
> they describe a specific point on the earth, not a large area like a rural 
> US township of 36 square miles.
>   I can comprehend how I might want to visit the crossroads approximately 
> one mile southeast of a very small village in Northwest Missouri where my 
> great-great grandfather's house once stood, obtain the GPS coordinates, and 
> record them for posterity with a photograph I have of the house.  I also 
> understand how GPS coordinates are useful for locating cemeteries, graves 
> within cemeteries, and other landmarks.
>   However, if all I know about an ancestor's location is a rural township or 
> county, I would be concerned that I was promoting inaccuracy if I 
> arbitrarily chose (and yes, it would be arbitrary) the center of the 
> township or county.
>   I will continue to use standard historical place names, with a reference 
> to the modern place name when necessary, for the foreseeable future.
>   Connie Sheets
>   Arizona
>   Jacqueline Wilson
>   Evanston, IL
>   Masters Student,  Dept. US Military History
>   American Military University
>   wilssearch at gmail.com
>   Professional Indexer, Historian, and Genealogist
>   Deputy Sheriff for Publications of the Chicago Corral of the Westerners
>   IASPR Newsletter Editor
>   "Wilssearch - your service of choice for the indexing challenged 
> genealogist."

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