Recording a Place Name in the United States Before the County or State was Incorporated

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

How to record a U.S. place name for a year before the county or state was formed.

There are two camps of thought on this issue. Some research experts say that you should record the place name exactly as it would have been recorded at the time the event (birth, marriage, etc.) occurred. Before a United States county or state was organized, the place usually had a colony or territory name which can be derived from old maps. However, if you record it this way in your files, other people searching for the ancestors you entered will fail to find them because most people will search for the place by the name used after the county and state were established. If people don't find your submission because they searched different place terms than you submitted, they are likely to duplicate your submission.

The bad news, then, is that in the genealogy world there seems to be no good solution for this. Some people are starting to use GPS coordinates to record places, but that solution isn't yet widespread. And GPS coordinates are not always helpful if they are used without the proper place name, too, because while GPS coordinates accurately give the location of the event, they fail to indicate the jurisdiction of the applicable event record.


Be very careful with using GPS coordinates, found that not all coordinates are to the exact location they may very from a foot or to a few yards of where they should be depending on the GPS.  They may also be inaccurate from one manufacture to another.  I would suggest that you put a note stating the type of GPS and date since technology changes very fast in the world today.