Why would you not include the country in the place name?

+13 votes

It seems that there are a lot of profiles where no country name is given. One can eventually puzzle out which country it should be, but it would be so much easier if it was named. It is very helpful when one is looking for potential duplicates on very common surnames.
My preference would be that each profile have a requirement of at least one country in any one of the places, since it's likely we would have at least a *clue* to where they lived.

Please - start adding the country to your profiles.

in Policy and Style by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (261k points)
I do agree. It would seem like a pertinent piece of information that is usually readily available.

Consider that sometimes the identification of the country is far more difficult than one might assume.

  • The modern designation for a country often is not the same as the designation at the time of the event. For example, a person born in Massachusetts in 1690 was not born in the "United States of America" -- but we've had lengthy G2G conversations about whether there's another "country" name that could be applied, and if so what that name is. And a person born in Westphalen in 1820 was not born in "Germany," and if the place of birth was under Prussian control at the time, it may be misleading to say that it was "Prussia," since "Prussia" generally refers to a different place. There are numerous other examples of this.
  • Sometimes the locations of birth and death are elusive. Among the early immigrants to America that I've dealt with, there are some whose nationality is known, but it's unclear where they were born -- for example, there are English and Dutch who might have been born in England or the Netherlands (or possibly in America after immigration). There are others for whom both and nationality and place of origin are ambiguous -- for some individuals, there are hints that the person could have been German, Dutch, English, Flemish, or from one of the Scandinavian countries. And many of these people have no identified death records, and we don't know if they died in North America or if they returned to Europe and died there, or died in transit (some traveled back and forth on business).

So I agree that we need to try to include geographic information in profile data, but let's not insist on having the name of a country. And please don't assume that this kind of geographic information is readily available. 

I certainly understand when the location is *not* known. However, in many cases, a town or county location is given - but NOT the country. Those are the ones that I'm whining about.
Exactly. If you KNOW that London is the place of birth then you KNOW that England is where the person was born. Why not include it?


... or Ontario, Canada, or Kentucky, USA, or ... :D
Yeah, don't talk to me about Ontario, Canada.  I once tried to sent a package to Ontario, Ca and it went to Ontario, California, USA.  If I'd only spelled it better.

3 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
There is, of course no reason not to have the country.  But lot's of people cut and paste from their personal tree where they wouldn't have had to worry about not knowing the country. But a good reminder and a good project for those times when you're tired of your own tree or want to get to get a thousand contributions for the month the easy way.  Just worry about the bmd dates and maybe work through a surname.  Perhaps someone can create a free space page which would let people put the surnames they've "countrified" in and you just edit the page and put the surname you've finished in alphabetical order.  BTW, if you didn't know it already (and I just learned it the other day), if you say have a surname list up, you can do CONTROL click on the next name and it will come up in a new tab.  then when you're done, you just close the tab and you're back at the surname list.  I just tried it and it seems pretty easy.  Of course, you won't be able to do most profiles in many of the smaller surnames as they'll typically have lots of non-open profiles.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (411k points)
selected by Bobbie Hall
That's my project for tonight, Dave. I'm going thru my watchlist to be sure all of mine are complete and as unambiguous as possible.
0 votes
Personally I don't believe it is necessary. Ideally, all profiles should be placed in a category, which identifies their known place of birth..

eg United Kingdom (England/Wales/Scotland) Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Sweden, South Africa etc

I do however, identify the country of death if that differs from their birth country.
by Living Woodhouse G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
Ron, you consider the category more important than the places in the data fields? Interesting. But the profiles that don't have a country in the data fields also, frequently, are not categorized either.
The category should complement the data field without the need to overstate.  

For instance, if I have a profile birth in Featherstone, Yorkshire with a category of

"United Kingdom|England|West Riding of Yorkshire, Yorkshire|Featherstone "

in my opinion there is no need to add England in the place of birth data field.

By far more important, is the need for that place of birth to be substantiated with  a "source" such as a UK birth record, UK census, in this example.
That's where I don't understand the logic. If you have the parish, town, county etc., why would you NOT include the country in the place fields?

If I'm going through 50 profiles trying to find John Smith, one less <scroll down> per profile is helpful. And if the location is given as Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, etc., it just gets more confusing.
Sorry Ron, but I disagree.  We have hundreds of new profiles that are imported each week with no category assignments.  Until each individual profile is edited to enter this data, by someone who understands the system, the field data stands as the only useful information for locations.


We should always include the country.  I admit that I am lax on that for USA profiles, but I think I am pretty consistent with profiles that identify other countries.  I, for one, never know if a town or district is in the UK or Australia.  They often have similar names.
Ron, since your ancestry is all UK-based, would you take a moment to consider those of us who have UK-expats in our ancestry? They emigrated, then named their towns for every parish & hamlet in the UK, even naming their counties the same... and then - they even had the same surnames as people in those original towns & parishes. Once you get back to the 1700s it can be difficult to find whether or not a particular ancestor is already on Wikitree, and perhaps causing even more duplicates.
+2 votes
A thought provoking question with interesting answers & comments. All part of G2G!
by Living Woodhouse G2G6 Pilot (260k points)

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