Saturday, September 13, 2008

Consistency in Place Names

One of the things that I've been doing recently with my database is trying to structure my place name list in a more consistent manner. In the past, I've always used the two character postal codes used here in the U.S. for state names, such as IN for Indiana. However, I've recently decided that I like the look and feel of writing out my place names : Indiana, USA. So, I've been working for several weeks off and on behind the scenes to update my place names in RootsMagic.

Most of my database is from the United States, and the lines that do stretch into Europe are not fleshed out enough to be of any consequence. By writing out the place names, I will avoid the confusion of such abbreviations as AK (is it Arkansas or Alaska?) and possibly make it easier for search engines to find my data. Once I've updated them all, I will resubmit a new GEDCOM to WorldConnect to see how the database looks.

I have used the country abbreviation, USA, for all events that have taken place in the United States since it was formed, in areas that have always been part of the country. For example, events that occurred in the 13 original colonies or in those states that later became part of the Confederacy, I have just left as they are : Virginia or New York. Later, I hope to be able to go back and look at key facts in these places and on an individual basis give them more detail, i.e. Massachusetts Bay Colony or New Sweden, dependant on the historical time frame.

RootsMagic gives you the option of placing longitude and latitude for each place name. Eventually, I may give that information for places that are used repeatedly in my data. RootsMagic also gives you plenty of room to write a descriptive field about the place, which will come in handy to give the details of the history of how counties, states, etc. were formed.

Perhaps this is just my fancy, but how do others handle their place names?
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