France Project Guidelines for Location Fields

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Location fields

Please follow the recommended standards for location fields.

  • Do not use abbreviations, dots, question marks, brackets or parentheses.
  • Do not include any information other than the place where an event occurred in the location field: do not use the location fields for baptism information, marriage contracts, circumstances or cause of death, or anything else than a place.
  • Do not add any comment such as "maybe", "not sure", "probably"... etc. in the data fields. If not sure about a place where an event happened, use the Uncertain status button.
  • Always use location names as they were at the time of the event. This means that modern departments should not be used for any event before the Revolution. It is useful to familiarize yourself with administrative divisions in France before working on locations - Wikipedia provides a good starting point.

Hyphens: Compound location names are always hyphenated in France. See Graphie des toponymes français (Wikipedia - in French).

Saint, St, St. : Do not use "St.". Write Saint in full, followed by a hyphen: Saint-Jean-d'Angély, Saint-Lô, Sainte-Anne-d'Auray.

After 1790

Departments were created in 1790. For 1790 to present, the location field should include:

Municipality (commune), Department (département), France.

Especially in rural areas, the event may have occurred in a more precise place than the municipality (lieu-dit, hameau, ferme). It is not necessary to include this information in the location field: this level of detail belongs in the biography. Similarly do not write a full address (with number and street) in the location field ; it is preferrable to include this information in the biography section.

It is preferrable not to include the region. Departments are unique, so that regions are not useful to identify a place, and they change too much (they were created in 1960 and changed in 2016).

Before 1790

The location field should include :

Place (i.e. town or village), Province, France

Use historic provinces instead of departments. The correspondences between former provinces and departments are listed on the France Provinces and Departments page.

Some provinces were very large, like Gascony (Gascogne), Champagne, Île-de-France, Brittany. In this case a narrower sub-province may be used in the location field, especially as a way to remove ambiguity between places with similar names.

If you know in which church (serving a parish) an event took place, include it in the biography rather than in the location field. Remember that the churches reflect the place where a baptism or funeral took place, while the location field is for the birth or death.

If you do not know the exact place of birth (as in the case of an immigrant) : use a wider location in the location field (province, country) and then discuss the possibilities in the biography. If, for instance, you have the name of a parish but do not know in which town it was, mention it in the biography.

Check that a particular province was really part of France when an event occurred. For instance, Lorraine did not officially become part of France until 1766, so for events before 1766 simply use "Place, Lorraine".

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