Location Name for Guam

+4 votes
In the Data Doctors Challenge for Location Too Short, it shows Guam as too short. What would the full required name be in circa 1908?
in Genealogy Help by Karen Morris G2G4 (4.7k points)
Mark it as a false error!

3 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guam]  Prior to 1898, it was part of the Kingdom of Spain, then controlled by the United States. Since that time I think it has been known as the Territory of Guam. You can review the link. Good luck to you.
by Rodney Long G2G6 Pilot (922k points)
selected by Susan Laursen

Hm... Control of the island went to the U.S. following the Spanish-American War, but it wasn't until the "Guam Organic Act of 1950" that it became an unincorporated territory of the U.S. and the residents given U.S. citizenship. After the transition to U.S. control in 1898 but before that 1950 Act, the residents were evidently not citizens of any country, save for those who served in the U.S. armed forces or were naturalized citizens.

I admit that so far this one has me baffled. Guam didn't go to Japan with the rest of the Mariana Islands as of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, though Japan's occupation of the island lasted 31 months in WWII. I have no idea what Guam should be called from 1899 through 1950 if not just "Guam." I have no relatives or ancestors there, but I'm following this with interest because I'm stumped.  :-)

Edison, I follow your thought, below is what I copy and pasted off the web. 

Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico became territories of the United States as part of the terms of the Treaty of Paris that officially ended the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Loosely, I suppose. The U.S. Department of the Interior has, for a very long time, had specific definitions of what falls into the categories of Insular Area Political Organizations: https://www.doi.gov/oia/islands/politicatypes. But unlike the Philippines and Puerto Rico, I don't believe there was any political action dealing with Guam following the ceding from Spain and up until 1950 that made the island anything other than an "unorganized territory." They were basically a military waystation that had been transferred to the control of the U.S. Navy.

So my conundrum is WikiTree's guidelines: "Our guiding principle is...'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."

I'm still stuck on Karen's question because the Data Doctors regularly debate location minutia for the sake of accuracy in following that guiding principle. The indigenous Chamorro name for the island is "Guåhån." Magellan called it Islas de las Velas Latinas in 1521. I can't find anything specifically addressing it, but I believe the island came to be called "Guam" after the indigenous "Guåhån" pronunciation sometime around 1668 when Spain began colonization of it as part of the Spanish East Indies. Guam wasn't officially made a U.S. territory until 1950, and I rather think--but have no evidence--that no one in Guam from 1899 to 1950 called their island "the Territory of Guam" or the "United States Territory of Guam." Today, if you send a letter to any U.S. territory, from American Samoa to the Marshall Islands, you use a two-character "state" abbreviation, a five- or 10-character zip code, and the country is "United States" (Guam is abbreviated "GU"; the zip code of the capital city, Hagåtña, is 96910...don't ask me why I looked that up <grin>). And that WikiPedia article referenced earlier, other than the disambiguation comment at the top, never refers to it as "the Territory of Guam," only Guam.

So I'm still kinda stumped. If I had to guess what Guamanians called their home in 1908, it would be Guam.  :-)

(I have actually set foot on Guam a couple of times, but otherwise have no dog in this hunt. I'm just interested to see what the final verdict is.)

I lived there for almost 4 years and it was locally known as Guam. The capital was called Agana when I lived there. Now it is Hagåtña, so they have reverted to the Chamorro name. It looks like they still use the name "Guam" for the whole island.

Aarrgh! NAVCAMS. I've seen the Guam connection on your profile and totally forgot about it. We need a club for people who have been to Augusta, GA, San Diego, Columbus, OH, and Guam.  ;-)  Thanks for commenting, Natalie.

+4 votes

Territory of Guam would probably be the name to use from mid-1898 to the present.

Perhaps that name could be added to the drop-down location menu, since the current name, Guam, is apparently too short for WikiTree/WikiTree+ suggestion standards (or the suggestion standards could be tweaked!).

by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (261k points)
When I Googled how to address a letter to Guam it said to include United States
+2 votes

You could always ask Aleš to 'Tag' Guam as a valid short location (like Fiji) and then it wouldnt' show up on the suggestions list as too short location :-)

by Graeme Olney G2G6 Pilot (151k points)

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