Places that change over time

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kmatthia-p40
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Beyond ascending & descending

Postby kmatthia-p40 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:18 pm

I started a Westpreussen portal and am still struggling with this. I settled on ascending, but it doesn't solve the problem. Place names are ephemeral even in the United States. My mother was born in Sandy Hill, New York, but that doesn't exist any more--it is Hudson Falls now. In Westpreussen there are multiple jurisdiction names for every place depending on the politics of the time when an event happened. The equivalent of county seats also change. Spellings change. What was Konitz, Westpreussen was also known as Conitz, and is today Chojnice. What about Koln with an umlaut, Koeln, and Cologne? The farther east one gets in Europe and into Russia things are fraught with spelling changes locally that are magnified when a name is anglicized. Transliteration standards have changed. Bejing was Peking when I was a boy. My grandmother was born in a city that was subsumed by another larger city. Bohemia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Czech Republic all had their own names for places and a jurisdictional heirarchy that doesn't match. Church jurisdictions do not match civil jurisdictions. There is an elephant in the room and it seems everyone thinks this can be put into a neat heierarchical, textual package. I don't think it can be.

I serve in International Reference on floor B1 of the Family History Library and have been here for over 4 years. I've researched European genealogy for over 40 years. I believe an ideal system would be latitude and longitude based. There might be near misses, but a smart system could list everything found within a given number of kilometers of the search target. Getting a hit at a population center would then result in a listing of all the place names by which it went along with juridictional heirarchy and the dates for which they were effective. This would include civil, church, synagogue, and other jurisdictions for that latitude and longitude. Using latitude and longitude is the only way to get away from a many-to-many database requirement and back to a one-to-many database that can be managed. Searching would go from any version of the place name, to coordinates, to multiple names, jurisdictional links, and applicable dates. Eventually, it would be good to actually map jurisdictions as more than a point on the earth and make them dimensional, but this might not be for this generation to do.

kmatthia-p40
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Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:47 pm
Location: Pleasant Grove, UT
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Beyond ascending & descending

Postby kmatthia-p40 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:18 pm

I started a Westpreussen portal and am still struggling with this. I settled on ascending, but it doesn't solve the problem. Place names are ephemeral even in the United States. My mother was born in Sandy Hill, New York, but that doesn't exist any more--it is Hudson Falls now. In Westpreussen there are multiple jurisdiction names for every place depending on the politics of the time when an event happened. The equivalent of county seats also change. Spellings change. What was Konitz, Westpreussen was also known as Conitz, and is today Chojnice. What about Koln with an umlaut, Koeln, and Cologne? The farther east one gets in Europe and into Russia things are fraught with spelling changes locally that are magnified when a name is anglicized. Transliteration standards have changed. Bejing was Peking when I was a boy. My grandmother was born in a city that was subsumed by another larger city. Bohemia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Czech Republic all had their own names for places and a jurisdictional heirarchy that doesn't match. Church jurisdictions do not match civil jurisdictions. There is an elephant in the room and it seems everyone thinks this can be put into a neat heierarchical, textual package. I don't think it can be.

I serve in International Reference on floor B1 of the Family History Library and have been here for over 4 years. I've researched European genealogy for over 40 years. I believe an ideal system would be latitude and longitude based. There might be near misses, but a smart system could list everything found within a given number of kilometers of the search target. Getting a hit at a population center would then result in a listing of all the place names by which it went along with juridictional heirarchy and the dates for which they were effective. This would include civil, church, synagogue, and other jurisdictions for that latitude and longitude. Using latitude and longitude is the only way to get away from a many-to-many database requirement and back to a one-to-many database that can be managed. Searching would go from any version of the place name, to coordinates, to multiple names, jurisdictional links, and applicable dates. Eventually, it would be good to actually map jurisdictions as more than a point on the earth and make them dimensional, but this might not be for this generation to do.

JamesAnderson
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Postby JamesAnderson » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:53 pm

One way to solve at least a part of this issue is to use this program and I do not know where you find it, that takes old maps and superimposes them on a Google map. That would at least show visually via the mashup what you are looking at today. After all, we;re going to have alot of beginners looking for answers who will be looking at these pages.

If you know of other links that might help people find their way around those areas also online, please put them in the external links on the portal and pages you have created, that will also help.

I'm using my talk page (I use the same user ID I use here) to be a page where people can post external web links we might want to use and we can vet them together. Might help find the most useful links that way. That way I can also learn something as well about these areas.

kmatthia-p40
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Attempt at using latitude and longitude for page name

Postby kmatthia-p40 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:04 pm

I converted Konitz, Westpreußen, Preußen, Germany page to a latitude / longitude page name to see how it would work. You can see that Konitz has a rich and disputed jurisdictional history. I think this method will better avoid offending people (e.g., what will you name the Formosa page). See: https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Lat_53.704684_Lon_17.583189

JamesAnderson
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Postby JamesAnderson » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:19 am

That's a good way to handle it. Having the lat/lon coordinates along with the common name and listing the other names and the times they were used will help in these matters.

Will searching, whether from the site or from an external search engine pick this type of listing up properly?

Thomas_Lerman
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Postby Thomas_Lerman » Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:46 pm

That is an interesting idea, but not sure that I would completely agree. If someone did not find a place for some reason, they may end up creating another page that is off just a few feet from the lat/long. Exact searching would be interesting too. It seems like there could be some issues with boundaries still depending on how they get moved (I cannot think of an example off hand).

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:17 pm

JamesAnderson wrote:That's a good way to handle it. Having the lat/lon coordinates along with the common name and listing the other names and the times they were used will help in these matters.

Will searching, whether from the site or from an external search engine pick this type of listing up properly?


Searching is a big problem with this approach. Try searching for Preussen, for example. You'll see that "Lat 53.704684 Lon 17.583189" entry in the search results. Now imagine a long list of such entries. You'll have no idea which one to follow up on. Whereas if you had listed Konitz or Conitz or Chojnice, you would have a decent chance of recognizing it from the list. With this approach you also lose any hope of using the Exact Match button.

It was an interesting idea, but I don't see how it can work. We just need to create all the appropriate redirects, list in the body of the article all the names, and pick the best name for the actual article title. In most cases, I would think that is the current name, since that would be the place to go for records.

I do think it is a good idea to have a standard of listing the Lon/Lat for towns so that they can unambiguously be identified (and it's also helpful for GPS users who go to the area).

Thomas_Lerman
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Postby Thomas_Lerman » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:23 pm

I realize that the la/t/long is more common than it used to be, but how many really know or know where to look up the coordinates? What would be used as the town center or whatever for these coordinates?

JamesAnderson
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Postby JamesAnderson » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:09 pm

Alan, you're right on that, simply because of the precision that one can get with lat/long coordinates now.

I think there is something from the USGS or some other Federal agency that lists the lat/long of communities and census-designated places, etc., that lists generally accepted coordinates within the US. Outside the US it may be another matter altogether.

If there were some standard for indicating lat/long coordinates for places, it would help, but offhand I don't know of any such standard at present.

I actually think that the lat/long could be the first thing in the body text of the article, or in a template for the statistical type of information off to the side in a sidebar. Might be hard to envision since I've not seen something like that elsewhere, but it might do the trick for this.

scion-p40
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Postby scion-p40 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:02 am

I think that the flexibility of searching by both place name at the time and by lat & long are vital. Planning ahead is better than waiting until it's here. Genealogy software includes lat & long and some folks are using that feature. Given that lat & long are now more precise, would it be possible to broaden the search by having an option to include "within 1, 5, 10, or 20 miles (toggle to km)" like online phone directories do?


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