Genealogy Shelter in Place Project 2
Make the most of your genealogy time, now and in the future, with these ideas.

A quarantine sounds like the introverted genealogist’s delight. Who wouldn’t want long stretches of interrupted time at home with WiFi for family history research? As the days pass, seminars must be cancelled, libraries close, presentations postponed, ancestral travel is either impossible or not wise, all to protect us from COVID-19, or coronavirus.

So, the question is how to make your genealogy time at home pay off, now and in the future.

Genealogy Shelter in Place Project 2: Clean Up Place Names

Pinpointing geographic locations is essential to good genealogical research. And entering those place names consistently in your family tree software is equally important. Consistent place names and GPS mapping can streamline your research. So, take some time to find and clean up the place names in your tree.

Before You Begin

Remember genealogy standards for place names go from smallest to largest entities: village or township or city/county or shire/state or province/country. This geographical progression may differ in international locations, but essentially remains the same.

When reviewing place names in your family tree software:

  • Include USA in all place names in the United States
  • Include counties or equivalents for all place names when known
  • Eliminate duplication of names due to misspellings or punctuation
  • Decide if you are using place names at the time of your ancestor or today’s place names
  • Take advantage of the geo location mapping function built in to your family tree software
  • Note that GPS geo locations use current names of places, so take care if you intend to keep the original place names
  • Resolve place name questions with a good mapping resource, such as the one offered at FamilySearch

As You Work

The image at right reflects examples from my tree today. I have three entries for Breslau. But, only the first one is correct. When I update and change these entries to my standard place name – Breslau, Kr. Breslau, Schlesien, Prussia – I will have all my ancestors in Breslau located in the same place.

The bottom example for Bristol illustrates my own to-do project. I need to update all U.S. locations to include USA. How I wish I’d done this from the beginning.

The red question marks indicate that the automatic geo location was not found by my software, in this case Reunion for Macintosh. Norwegian farm names, parishes, cemeteries, and original names of places – all in plentiful supply in my tree – are not available via GPS using present-day names of places. In these cases, I override the software and indicate that the place name as I have entered it is correct.

Your family tree software may also batch list all the places without a GPS location, as indicated in the main image above. Again, be careful of automatically accepting a present-day place name if you intend to use place names from the time your ancestors lived there.

Questions about Genealogy Shelter in Place Project 2?

If you have questions about this genealogy project? Email me here. Your question may not appear automatically as all email is moderated.

Did you miss Genealogy Shelter in Place Project 1? You can read it here. Have fun with your research, stay healthy, and look for my next post soon on this topic.