Why place names will always be a mess - lovely video
Attached is a very nice 3:40 minute animation (with superb background music) of political boundary changes in Europe for the past thousand years or so. I almost put the title of my post as "Why historic place names ..." and then changed it to "Why standardized place names ..." and then realized everything to do with place names is a problem.
But ... enjoy the video. I did.
Wow! Point well taken.
On a side note, what got me was how long Hungary was huge.1
PiperTWilson I'm thinking that was the Austria-Hungry Empire???0
@Gail S Watson (Hungary. Three syllables. Please.) No, Hungary was the entirety of the Carpathian Basin for basically a millennium. The A-H Empire added stuff around it, but only kind of -- the administrations remained separate, other than the identity of the guy wearing the crowns.0
? I'm confused (yes imagine that). - Are you implying the 'mess' means the 'theory' behind FamilySearch Standardized Place Names is in error? The video demonstrates how borders/places (that are named) change over time - which is incorporated into FamilySearch Places Authority:
I suppose placenames authority could be an endless 'work-in-progress' if that's what is meant by 'mess'?
Has produced great posts explaining the intended use of Standardized placenames.
Hopefully contributions to placenames will be 'organizing' and not creating 'a mess'.
In a nutshell: there is the place 'you know' for an event (birth, marriage, death, etc) and there is that same place 'standardized in FamilySearch's database' - you want to make sure you are picking the 'right' one OR suggest a 'new standardized placename' or correction to an existing one.
But yes you are right - most human endeavors end up making/rearranging 'messes' (I probably have some glaring ones myself).
NOTE: The linked video is posted by a group (TheYoung Europeans) intending to make some comment about how migrants are treated politically.0
genthusiast The theory behind the Standardized Place Names is brilliant. Let's put that bell on the cat's neck. It's the application that bogs down in the confusion of history. Finding out what the name of that place was in 1732 can be very difficult. And getting some people to understand that what it was called in 1889 is NOT what it was called in 1732 can be even more difficult. AND when I see some of the stabs at converting place names to a standardized name go so wrong - like switching continents - it gets even more improbable that we can pull it off. "It" being a standardized and correctly named location for every record in the World Tree. Seeing the animation made me realize it really does look hopeless. However, continually making and rearranging this mess will certainly keep us engaged.0
Julia Szent-Györgyi Spelling was never my strong point. You should see my writing before there was spellcheck. <rolling eyes>1
Yes - I agree. The application will create messes - and without 'expert' involvement can devolve into fiction.0
Gordon Collett ✭✭✭✭✭
That is a fascinating video and a lot of fun to watch. But I take a completely different message from this and would say that this supports being optimistic that place names will just get better and better as the FamilySearch continues development. This is because if the data is there to create such a movie, then that same data can be used to create correct place names.
First let me make perfectly clear that my focus of research is Norway which, as you can see at the very top of the map hardly ever changed and even when it was passed between Sweden and Denmark, it was still considered Norway. I do feel sorry for those of you with ancestors in those areas of the map that changed so frequently.
Secondly, for the sake of coherent discussion, we have to strictly separate topics between 1) The Places database, 2) Correct use of the Places database, and 3) Misuse of or ignoring the Places Database.
Thirdly, we need to evaluate the potential of the Places database using portions of it that are complete and well done, not on the portions of the database that anyone at FamilySearch would freely admit are far from done and a mess.
Fourthly, we need to look at this place name stuff from a practical, genealogical perspective.
Now to get down to my actual thoughts about Gail’s comment, “it gets even more improbable that we can pull it off. "It" being a standardized and correctly named location for every record in the World Tree.”
What makes having correctly named locations possible is that “we,” meaning each of us individually don’t have to do the work. One expert editor of the database with the correct expertise and access to required data can correctly enter one place with all its historical jurisdictions and be done with that one place. Then no user has to worry about that. We users just have to find the correct place at the point in time we are working and then just look up the entire time span. We do not have to recreate the completed research.
To take an example from my wife’s family, she has ancestors that lived on the Kjeravik farm on the island of Varaldsøy. Archeological findings in the surrounding areas show people living there at least as early as 200 AD. There were probably people living then in the area of Kjeravik, also. Do we know who they were? Of course not. Do we know what they called where they lived? Also, of course not. The first mention of a church in the area was in 1337 but it is known the church existed before that time. The oldest parish records are from 1670. The first known resident of that farm lived there in 1519. His name was Hallvard. Nothing is known of any of his family. In his day the name of the farm was spelled Kjeringwik, basically the same as today.
Viewing the movie, the shifting boundaries here and there may make things look hopeless, but the Places database doesn’t view the world like that. It takes one spot of ground, one spot on the globe where a family lived, one set of latitude and longitude numbers, and looks at just that one spot. Then it looks at that one spot up through the years. As it does with Kjeravik.
The starting point is dictated by that practical, genealogical perspective I mentioned. Is there any need to have a name for Kjeravik prior to 1519? No, since we will never have any information about anyone that lived there. Parishes in Norway were established in the middle ages and were very stable for centuries. The exact date that Strandebarm parish was established is not known but was certainly before 1300. The full history of the jurisdictions for Kjeravik are known since that time and are found in the Places database: https://www.familysearch.org/research/places/?focusedId=10931742&searchTypeaheadInputText=kjeravik&text=kjeravik&pagenum=1&pagesize=20. Also found there are eight ways the name of the farm has been spelled through the years.
Since the history of the farm is known and is in the database, all any user of the database needs to do is pay attention and use the correct entry:
In its case, there are four choices. There can be as many as are needed. The spelling used for the standard is the spelling on the current map but one can use any of the historical spellings included in the database or even the particular spelling found in one record as long as it is linked properly to the standard:
The Norwegian National Archive itself does not bother with using the historical names for the broader regions of the country since they were pretty stable, but the beauty of the standardization routine in Family Tree is that the application allows using those names if one wants to, even though few people bother, and still link it to the proper entry in the Places database:
In summary, the movie shows the data is available. It just needs to be added to the Places database which is a very long term project and users need to be familiar with the database and know how to use it and need to know what it means for a place to be “standardized.”
(That changing continent stuff is a completely different topic and has more to due with the incompleteness of the Places database and a computer routine that did not take that into account.)1
Just in passing ...
I would humbly suggest, that the "Place Names", in 'FamilySearch', will ALWAYS be a "Work in Progress" ...
[ ie. That will NEVER end ... ]
ps: 'Time' just continues ...