[APG Public List] [APG Members] citing coordinates (was place names)

Michael John Neill mjnrootdig at gmail.com
Thu Oct 28 08:17:50 MDT 2010

Just like anything else, the citation is really only a small part of it as
Larry indicated. For me at least, the key is in the analysis--the "why" I
think the region bounded by specific coordinates is the correct region. What
specific method helped me arrive at the specific coordinates for the
location (the citation) is definitely important, but the analysis of the
records that were used (deeds, maps, historical texts, etc.) to ascertain
the location is really what is key. While I think the citation is important,
the analysis (in my opinion) is even more crucial. Anyone can stand on point
A and obtain coordinates

For locations, the analysis tells me why I think I'm standing on
great-great-grandpa's farm, gravesite, etc. That analysis is what someone
else will read/review and decide if it makes sense and is reasonable based
upon the sources I have used (and cited) and if they think I'm really
standing on great-great-grandpa's farm, gravesite, etc. The citation for the
coordinates tells someone else precisely where this location is.

This has been an interesting discussion even though it has slightly deviated
from the original question.

Let's say I decide to include the GPS coordinates of the corners of my
ancestor's piece of property or farm as part of my information on
the ancestor. Citing the coordinates of corners of the property, while
important, is not that big a deal and a format could easily be established.
Showing why I think those corners are the boundary corners of his property
is really the important thing here. And of course it's important to remember
that we're not surveyors either (at least most of us!).
Personally the citation format of GPS coordinates is not nearly as
interesting as documenting "why" we think we have the correct location of an
event and why we think that location is a specific one or a larger, less
determined, one.

Michael John Neill
Casefile Clues

On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 8:44 AM, LBoswell <laboswell at rogers.com> wrote:

>  These are excellent.  I think the coordinates themselves have to be
> justified by using the same techniques used in other areas of genealogical
> research.  So I can see the coordinates themselves being cited separately.
> Where did the coordinates come from?  What evidence or facts justify
> attaching a particular name to a particular set of coordinates?  And so on.
> So would the coordinates be cited say to having been sourced from
> a particular map.  Or use of a gps at the actual spot being given the
> coordinates in the field?   Or from a text description that then was
> interpreted using a historical overlay or map?  Or all of the above if
> applicable, but separately cited?
> I like your analogy to photos though.  GPS is really taking a 'snapshot' of
> coordinates in a field.  That's a nice creative way to get at it
> Larry
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Terry Reigel <terry at reigelridge.com>
> *To:* apgpubliclist at apgen.org
> *Sent:* Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:04 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [APG Public List] [APG Members] place names
> 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?
> Elizabeth,
> 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

Michael John Neill
Casefile Clues-Genealogy How-Tos
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