Place - Name and Standard

I have moved to RM 10 and am trying to clean up my database while everything is fresh.

I would like advice about using Place Names and using Standard Place Names.

I have many records from Eastern Europe where the latitude and longitude are the same, but the place names are different depending on the year. Sometimes it is Russia, sometimes it is Lithuania. Or sometimes it is Austria-Hungary and other years it is Slovakia.

I prefer to enter the name of the location the way it is in the archival records. If I connect the different names by using Standard Place Name (use contemporary name) but keep the Place Name the way it was in the records, am I ever able to use the Standard Place Name for a report? Am I able to run a Search that uses Standard Place Name? Some of these towns change the town name and the country name depending on the language that the archival documents are written in!

Advice appreciated. And if the answer is a simple “Not possible”, please move it to a feature request!

I believe the answer to both questions is no. For example, you can do searches based on Place but not on Standard Place. The sentence template language supports a [Place] variable but not a [StandardPlace] variable. I believe that the only use RM makes of the Standard Place name is for geocoding and mapping.

I can relate. My family is Polish with a hint of Czech, some of which lived, and still live, in western Ukraine, all places that have had dozens of names in dozens of languages. When I first started, I preferred to have the historical place name (at the time of event), but very quickly realized it’s not necessarily the best practice. I now use today’s Standard place name and add notes with a short history if there were a lot of name changes or custom facts with the historical names, depending on how much info is out there.

In my opinion, using today’s Standard name improves clarity, reproducibility, saves time, and hopefully a little bit of futureproofing locations for me and others who look at my tree.

I understand many doing genealogy based in Eastern Europe are themselves several generations removed and won’t understand the nuance of the partitions and border changes in the 1900s, just as I won’t be familiar with geographical changes in other parts of the world.

It’s far easier to find the historical names of a place, like on Wikipedia, instead of trying to find what or where the historical place might be today. A handful of villages with the same name are found across Poland and Ukraine, maybe even beyond lol, and some of them can be within the same administrative districts, too.

Issues I’ve run into with historic names:

  • a family member of mine didn’t realize their parent was from a now Ukranian village and not one of the same name in more central Poland, creating an unnecessary brick wall.
  • I’ll get too many hits or NO hits on google when diving into DNA matches and their trees for areas because they didn’t put a Standard place.
  • A DNA match here and there confused Galicia from the Austro-Hungarian empire with Galicia, Spain.
  • difficulty finding the common area DNA matches’ ancestors’ are from.
    One example is a small group of unknown cousins. Looking at their trees, it looked like they were a mix of Slovaks and Hungarians with a few repeating places. Luckily, these guys weren’t too difficult to figure out because there were lots of them with trees(!), so looking up all the places they had thankfully pointed to just one village, with a different primary religion to what my family is. Some were using the village’s name as it is today, some the Romanized spelling, and others its Hungarian name (very different spelling from the first two). While I still don’t know our common ancestor, I have a concrete place to search with no ambiguity and a new set of religious records to consider. If the place was something closer in name like Nowa Wieś, I wouldn’t get anywhere. I want people to feel just as lucky with any nugget of info they can gleam when looking at my tree.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to go about it, but I do think one adds confusion and frustration for more people over the other :slight_smile:


In fact RM 10 (and previous editions) is somewhat contradictoriy in this regard.

I also believe using the hisorical name is important, especially if one wants to write up the social history of the times. For Nord Brabant, Nederland, both the province and the nation state change about 8 times from 1100 on. Ideally, RM would provide a ‘thesaurus’ which showed equivalencies. I appreciate that this would be slightly complex boolean construct because it would have to be associated with the relevant dates.

On the other hand, RM 10 objects when I include Australia as a place name before 1 Jan 1901, or England before about 1300, or the state of Victoria before 1901 (Colony of Victoria), or Scotland before …, or Wessex before … etc. So RM clearly has a way of managing place names by date … but does it only for USA, Canada, UK and Australia.