place names and time frame should match, right?

+28 votes
I am having a discussion with a fairly new member who is saying that place names should all reflect current place names so that people can use the google map search button.  So for example, Nouvelle-France per this man should not be used since google maps can't find it.  But if we go by historical accuracy, which is my understanding of what we want, then we do indeed use Nouvelle-France.  Can't find anything specific in the style guide on this question.  Just find and know of G2G discussions previously done on this subject.  And projects like the error project which kicks up a fuss if USA is used prior to US revolution/independence, and so on.

Can we get something firmly laid out on this subject please?
in Policy and Style by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (700k points)
retagged by Maryann Hurt

Applied to locations, this means using place names in native languages and using the names that people at the time used, even if they now no longer exist.

...otherwise Columbus landed in Cuba (or wherever) right by that cigar factory down at the docks.  :)


Thank you Vincent, much appreciated.  Might have been the rum factory though.  ;)

5 Answers

+11 votes

I think the new Member is right. As long as Wikitree just have one field for birth then you need to do a choice. Why not add the historical correct name in free text and hope that Wikitree get a better location model. 

See this Map created with Wikitree profiles.

If you select having historical "correct" names this map cant be created. 

The map on the link use locations added in Wikipedia that use GPS coordinates and also have multiple names for a place. 


Maps are important in genealogy and choicen a way of representing a birth that a mapping software don't understand is saying no to displaying your family tree on a map  

I would like to see 

  1. maps like above
  2. find easy where is the nearest event in my family tree
  3. I would like to visit places in my family tree in an easy way --> you need to select representing locations so this is possible...


by Living Sälgö G2G6 Pilot (305k points)
Sorry Magnus, the @ toggle on here doesn't work like it does in FB.  ;)  But to answer your question, I gave the guy the link to this discussion so he could follow and comment if he so chose.  I don't feel comfortable with naming names.

Ok you can also send him/her my email 

Did some playing around yesterday with Google earth and they had historical maps overlay ==> if you have the coordinates for an location you can display old maps on the location... see link feels like an interesting possibility... that would be the future.....

Another cool thing I did today is that we can now create Timelines on the fly if we have WikiTree profiles that also are in Wikipedia/Wikidata. I have created a WikiTree property in WikiData called P2949 Today I have set it for about +2000 profiles and by going to Histropedia and send in a query CLAIM[2949] ==> it will create a timeline for all +2000 entries....

Histropedia Query CLAIM[2949]

And we get this look

Bic pic

Another link that displays a map with all locations for birth dead and buried of the same +2000 people

Getting quite esoteric there my friend.  ;) Not sure about wikipedia and wikidata, I know the first, never heard of the second until now.  Sounds like much added work to getting profiles bio'ed and properly sourced and located.

We have a long-established style rule on this:

As established on the Name Fields page, a guiding principle is to "use their conventions instead of ours."

Applied to locations, this means using place names in native languages and using the names that people at the time used, even if they now no longer exist.

@Chris any plans to add more location fields or do as WikiData to have location "items" 

Any thoughts that its ok to create a template for Coordinates?

Hi Magnus,

I wouldn't expect more location fields. We do have a second set of Birth Location and Death Location fields that we can use to link to another database. I'm inclined to think we will end up using FamilySearch's location database instead of creating our own. FamilySearch's database can then be used to connect coordinates.

What exactly do you want to use for a Coordinates template, and where? Would it be redundant if we started using FamilySearch's locations?


@Chris thanks for answering now I understand you see no benefits doing location based genealogy. If I should communicate the exact location of a grave, house I use coordinates? ....every modern genealogy software use coordinates...

Start feeling this is another complex area like WikiData/Wikipedia/WikiTree that arguing in G2G will not work and we will not learn from each other..... or maybe I am wrong...

I suggest we wait and see what will happen to the location field....

Over and out....

Stockholm, Sweden
Coord: 59.413705,17.9084187


When you use the place names in native languages and the names that the people of the times used can you also add a footnote or put in paretheses the modern names so everybody will understand where these places are now and who these people were?

Marilynn Tobash
Chris, FamilySearch locations leave much to be desired, since modenr locations they are based on change and they don't necessarily correct them.  And historic locations, sorry, they don't seem to have a clue about those, at least not in their suggestions that have been brought into Wikitree.
Marilynn, I often do exactly that in Bio, not in placename fields.  Bio is not limited in size as the basic data fields are, so you can add links to maps, Wikipedia, or whatever suits your fancy in the Bio.
+12 votes
In view of the discussion going on about London categories, this is an interesting question.

Somehow we need to cater for both the historical genealogist and the person who wants to know where X is in the modern world.
by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (287k points)

I agree. I am right now meeting another Wikitree active person in the center of Stockholm and can use the map in the link above to find event in Wikitree related to the Swedish castle  


I cant see no good arguments why we should not automatic generate Maps  



Picture above from my mobile phone when I am in Stockholm at the Swedish Castle. 

The whole map see Map-with-wikitree-profiles map generated using location data from WikiData. Today the location data inside WikiTree is not good enough for generating maps we need to rethink the location concept is my point of view....

Mangus, Vincent has it right in his comment.

Applied to locations, this means using place names in native languages and using the names that people at the time used, even if they now no longer exist.

This is the existing standard.

Martin, you can put the modern location names for the historical location in the biography section if you wish with a note about that being the current name of the location for the event you ate describing.
I could indeed, but I see no reason to do so if the same can be achieved once rather than numerous times.
It may be the rule, but it isn't the standard, because nobody told the gedcommers they'd have to change everything.

The de-facto standard for names and places on WikiTree (fortunately) is what came in via gedcom from all the old books.

I think there is a need for a full discussion on this matter.  The standard can be very difficult to achieve and RJ says, actual practice is a long way from the policy.

There is also a  basic incompatibility between putting the historic name into the location field but then having an adjacent link which relies on modern names.

It can be extremely difficult to know just what the place would have been called .The  further back you go the more problems arise especially if you know little about the area and it's history.

An example take from somewhere I know a little about. I'm sure that hundreds of similar examples can be found elsewhere in the world.

In the 13th C, people in the County of Toulouse (not at that time part of France) would have spoken in Occitan; not French and not English.

County of Toulouse,  translates as Comté Tolosa (I think, certainly Toulouse is Tolosa)

 Tolosa; google maps takes you to a town in Spain.

Comté  Tolosa is even more confusing because for some reason you end up in  a place called Toulouse le Chateau which sounds right but  is 700km away in the Jura.

At the moment   there is a mixture of  location names  for the early Counts of Toulouse

Some include the modern name and location ,some have the modern name but the wrong department.(The Jura, I wonder if someone  was someone mislead by the village of Chateau le Toulouse?)

I also noted  profiles of early individuals, supposedly born in  Villefranche de Rouergue.(presumably because the book says they were Counts of Rouergue)   However ,the town wasn't built until 1252. The capital of the County of Rouergue is Rodez (Rodes, Roergue in Occitan)

It is a minefield trying to get it right .I've  lived there which is the only reason I see these  anomalies .It  would take a real specialist to use the correct name for each date.

It would make more sense to at least try to get the modern place right  so it  can  be correctly linked on the map . Perhaps there could then be another box for the historic place name.

I agree about discussion, although not based on pre-conceptions.

You have certainly highlighted problems with early records (I once studied Occitan poetry at uni!). But it applies to 19thC as well, including mistakes due to misreading by those doing transcripts. Recent example - Northaw in Herefordshire. It isn't. It's in Hertfordshire.

Until anyone comes up with a better argument, I'm all for cross-referencing historical places to their modern equivalents.

See this G2G question, Should we use map coordinates in location fields? where Chris Whitten says adding latitude and longitude fields is on the to-do list. Isn't this the best solution in the long run?  We can add what we think is historically correct to the location fields, and the co-ordinates which point to where it is on a map.

@Maryanne we don't just want to have coordinates when people die or get born..... I assume you also would like to find houses, a cemetery ro something else of interest ==> you would like to have coordinates in the bio ==> then you need to add a template

Here is a map of people I have mapped between WikiTree and WikiData. This map is just showing buried locations...


In Sweden many churches start giving GPS coordinates to graves so its coming plus some people has also started to mark the grave with a QR-code so you can read more about the person. I have thought of linking from a grave to WikiTree

Magnus, this question is about the location fields on profiles and their corresponding pins to Google Maps.  Discussing a template to use within profile bios is off-topic.

@Maryanne the pin is a solution to translate what's in the birth location field to a place on the map 

A Template with geolocation is a precise way of explaining the location of a place that can be used for birth locations, houses or what ever you want.... 

I compared having one field for locations as bad solution as having just one field for a name. A smal step in the right direction is to use templates for locations. 

If you check Wikidata how they represent a location/Geographical features you can get a feeling that one field and no templates is not enough.....

Check Q34932 and the name in different languages. If you just have one field you will miss something



capital city of Queensland, Australia

  • Brisbane, Queensland





    • برزبن
    • بريزبن
    • بريسبان







      Горад Брысбен


      • Брысбен
      • Горад Брысбейн
      Belarusian (Taraškievica orthography)



      • Брысбэн



      • Брисбейн
      • Бризбън






        • Bris Vegas
        Mangus, You are still off topic. The question was about the standards WikiTree has for the location fields at the top of the profile. Your ideas may have merit, but they do not apply to the actual question asked.


        They apply to the problem how to get WikiTree data on a map. Status today is that location data in WikiTree has bad quality, we don't validate it , we don't create a Coord Template instead endless arguing if it should be xxx in the field or yyy.... 

        Example of a maps I did today where you need to have good location data...

        Like we are saying Mangus, your reply's are not to the actual question but rather to changes that you are pushing. The question is what should we be doing right now using the existing standards. I also remember somewhere in a recent post, I can't remember exactly where, that with only a few exceptions templates are to be discouraged.

        @Dale Check question again the end users user case was to add something in the field and display it on a map. You miss that the end user would like to display things on a map....

        • Template draft policy
          this was written by Chris before the Database Error project and before WikiTree had a property inside WikiData. I think everyone now has a better understanding how important structured data is (i.e. using templates) and that we also should/need work tighter together with Wikipedia and other sites with genealogy data....


        +12 votes
        For people who want to be able to click and go to a map it is very easy to do so from the bio section: just put in the location as [URL_of_your_favorite_map_app_set_to_the_town_in_question_here<space>name_of_town] and voilà -you got your map.
        by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (617k points)
        This is bad long term solution. Google or whoever else can change parameters in URL and such link will no longer work.
        +10 votes
        finding something on google maps should have absolutely nothing to do with being historically accurate.
        by Jim Tareco G2G6 Mach 3 (37.5k points)
        I don't understand this. No-one has suggested not being historically accurate. The issue here is to be user-friendy. The arguments being put forward here and in other places seem to think that WT can't do both.
        +10 votes

        Danielle, you can tell the man if historically correct place name don't map correctly using the pin which links to Google Maps, he can use Open Street Map.  It's open source software with open source data to which you can add historical place names if they don't already exist.  On each profile's Family Tree & Tools tab down the page there is a section Location Maps which has links to both Google Maps and Open Street Map.   

        See Would you rather see the location links go to OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps? 

        by Maryann Hurt G2G6 Mach 9 (91.9k points)

        As long as we don't validate the location we add to WikiTree we will have problems. 

        Adding the historical correct location with name to Open Street Maps feels cool but will be the same as creating your own custom map at Google. Nice solution but just another solution outside WikiTree and the location field

        Personally I use Gramps for my offline database which uses Open Street Map has the default map.

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