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The latest revisions to New FamilySearch contain some disturbing developments. In the release notes for the New FamilySearch Web Site of December 2009, it states: "In addition to the other information that is required for temple ordinances to be performed, an individual’s record must now have at least the country for birth, christening, marriage, death, or burial. The place-name must be standardized." There are actually two problems with this requirement; first, place names change over time and therefore cannot be "standardized" to that extent, and second, the requirement for a place is illusory.

Here is an example of the problem with standardized place names; country and other jurisdictional boundaries change over time. A good example is the entire area of Eastern Europe, especially those portions of Europe which have changed political boundaries several times, such as those from Germany to Poland to Russia to Germany and back to Poland. Many locations have three or more "names" depending on the time period involved. Which is the standardized name? If my ancestor was born in Germany, which later became Poland, do I use a German standardized name or the Polish one?

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Comment by Catherine Davis on December 16, 2009 at 9:57pm
I'm not a Mormon so don't know if the standardization you are talking about only refers to temple-ready records or if this is a global recommendation, but either way, I have problems. Following up on Stephanie's examples--records show that some of my ancestors lived in Stamford, CT, then Pound Ridge, NY. But further research showed that state bounderies moved and part of Stamford became Pound Ridge. My ancestors may have bought a new house, but it is equally possible that they stayed in the same home and the state and city changed. Something happened to other ancestors in Scotland--some of the earlier censuses show them living at a house number (no street) in the village of Inverallocy. As Inverallochy grew, it kept the house numbers but added street names. Today, the old Inverallochy is officially part of Fraserburgh. Or how about my husbands ancestors in Flanders--Belgium wasn't even a country until 1830, but those folks lived there for centuries before that. I think I'm belaboring your point,but...
Comment by Sarah Coles on December 16, 2009 at 10:01am
Glad you posted this as I was wondering myself how to handle this "standarization" of place names in my own files. One example was Alsace, Lorraine in which an ancestor was born. At the time of his birth it was in Germany but now is part of France. My question would then be which country would you choose in cases like tha?. It gets very confusing.

Another problem I have is what do do about counties in the USA also. For example, I find that a whole line of ancestors were born in Exeter, New Hampshire and I had listed the county as "Rockingham" as that is now the county. However, in running a USA Coiunty Verification Report from Legacy it tells me that county was not founded until 1769. Would I then just delete that country or leave it as is? is. This opens up a real can of worms. I'd also like to know what others do in such situations. Thanks for the blog, James.




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