[APG Public List] [APG Members] place names

Terry Reigel terry at reigelridge.com
Thu Oct 28 07:04:02 MDT 2010

Elizabeth wrote:

> Thanks for all your input on this subject. It's been a
> very informative discussion. Would you like to suggest
> the kind of citation that might be useful, going forward
> into the unknown, based on the variables that have been
> discussed?


For the moment I'll stop short of specifics but will offer some thoughts that might guide how a citation might be constructed. I see three separate aspects involved:

1. Describing the source of the coordinates itself. In my experience, there are at least three distinct ways that coordinates are obtained:

- By a database search. One can search on an online mapping site, like Google Maps, for a specific place and if it is identified the coordinates can be obtained. Other types of websites list places, sometimes with their coordinates. I think you can do the same with various computer programs. There may be books that do so as well, though I've not found them. It seems to me that citing such websites or books is well covered by existing models. It seems to me rather like citing any other bit of data found in such a database.

- By locating a place on a map. One can use an online mapping site, a mapping program, or even a physical map, to locate a place, then obtain the coordinates. This method requires describing the source as above, but also introduces the issue of the user having identified the location. Unless one is dealing with a point named on the map, shouldn't the citation say something about how one determined that the specific spot was the right one?

- By going to the place and using a GPS device to determine the coordinates. This seems to me rather like taking a photo of something. One should describe who gathered the data, and perhaps, if not clear, how that person determined that this was the correct location. It is not clear to me that the details of the device used are important, any more than one would record what type of camera was used. For very small points, like a specific tombstone, the precision of the device might be relevant. But for anything larger it is not.

2. Describing what was located. This is a point addressed previously in this thread. For relatively small "places," like tombstones or buildings, this is not an issue. But for larger places, such as towns or counties, it seems to me important to include in the citation a mention of what was located - the post office, center of town, or whatever.

3. The practical aspects of citing coordinates. While not necessarily relevant to the citation templates, the question remains about how to attach the citation to the coordinates. One can attach the citation to the appropriate part of the text in hand-written documents. But genealogy programs seem to differ in their treatment of coordinates, and someone here reported that at least one doesn't allow attaching citations to the coordinate field. Other programs make the coordinates part of the larger place definition, requiring that the citation note mention that it relates to the coordinates, and not to the rest of the place description.

Terry Reigel

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