The simple answer for me is - Convenience! I want to be able to use the mapping features in my RootsMagic 7 desktop software program and also add place content to FamilySearch Family Tree. That doesn't mean my view is correct, or that everyone should agree with me.
The FamilySearch Family Tree wants standardized place names that are based on current place names and jurisdictions. RootsMagic provides the FamilySearch standardized place names in their place list, and inserts them into the FamilySearch Family Tree when requested.
However, many genealogy professionals assert that we should always use historical place names existing at the time of the event because those names will lead us to the correct jurisdictions.
I have many examples of the historical place names which are in a different jurisdiction than the current place name. These include:
* Salem and many other towns in current Essex County, Massachusetts were in Old Norfolk County in Massachusetts Bay Colony in British Colonial America from 1630 to 1691 or so.
* Medfield and many other towns in current Norfolk County, Massachusetts were in Suffolk County in Massachusetts Bay Colony in British Colonial America from the 1630s to 1778, and then in the United States until 1793, when Norfolk county was created from part of Suffolk County.
* San Diego in California was founded in 1769 by Spanish priests and soldiers, so the historical place name might be San Diego, California, Spanish Colonial America. In 1823, Mexico became independent, and San Diego would then be San Diego, California, Mexico. In 1848, California became a territory of the United States, so it would be San Diego, California Territory, United States. San Diego County was formed in 1850 when California became a state, so the current city of San Diego is San Diego, San Diego, California, United States.
* Think about the countries of Europe - how many times have places in Germany, Belgium, Poland, Norway, Italy and many other countries had a change of jurisdiction?
Standardizing these place names for mapping purposes is one thing, and has been done by Google, Bing and other mapping websites to use in Global Positioning Systems devices and applications. The genealogy programs and FamilySearch use those map websites.
Capturing historical place names, and creating a list by date of the historical place names is being put in place by FamilySearch on the FamilySearch Places website - https://familysearch.org/int-std-ui-research/.
Here is what I saw by entering "medfield massachusetts" in the search field:
Using the information on the list of place names, I can see that the jurisdictions for Medfield over time are:
* Medfield, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Colonial America: 1649-1776
* Medfield, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States: 1776 - 1793
* Medfield, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States: 1793 to present
How can genealogy software family tree programs deal with this? Several programs try to help. I will look at some options in my next post in this series.
Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver