Place Names for the American colonies

Is there a standard for naming each of the original new world colonies for events dated pre-1776, including changes in which European country claimed it was theirs?

The quick answer to that is no, there is no standard. There are a lot of people that have opinions on how to name places, but nothing unified. One thing that a lot of people would argue for the colonies is the usage of British Colonial America. A lot of people are then going to turn around and argue that BCA is not appropriate as no such place was named British Colonial American back in the day. There isn’t even a good date to determine when the United States of American became the United States of America. Was it 1776, was it 1788 when the Constitution was finally ratified, was it somewhere in between? Even after the United States was the United States, what about the Civil War? Was Georgia place names something like Atlanta, Georgia, Confederates States of America or was it Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America?

SO what I am saying is that you need to determine what works for you. And how you are going to record things…and stick to it.

To the extent possible I have been trying to leave out British Colonial America, but I have run into lots of my ancestral line born or died in the new world before there was a United States where places were given as the United States (USA, United States, United States of America) by the well meaning folks who provided the info to a genealogy file (such as FamilySearch, Ancestry, WikiTree, etc.) using where that place is located in today’s world. I have early 1600’s ancestors who helped settle the New York area when it was under The Netherlands control and called it New Amsterdam, and was later declared to be British in the 1660s. Along with the British requiring last names of the Dutch who occupied the area they changed the name of the colony as well.

Would certainly be good if the Genealogy world could standardize place names based on dates.

I leave out the country name in place names when the country is the United States of America. Doing it that way does not really comply with standard place names. I do it that way because of how tiresome the country code is in printed reports for family reunions when nearly all the place names are American place names. Doing it that way also finesses many issues of American place names before the American Revolution or during the American Civil War. British Colonial America and the Confederate States of America no longer are issues.

There are still issues of states being split to form new states, e.g., after the Revolutionary War the state of North Carolina was split to form Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Virginia was split to form Kentucky. And during the Civil War, the Commonwealth of Virginia was split to form West Virginia. You weren’t asking about counties, but American counties were constantly being split in the early days to form new counties.

I don’t think that will happen. Name changes most often occur during or after wars or insurrections and such dates are not always clear. Just look at what is happening in Ukraine at present where Russia is claiming large swathes of the country. Where is Crimea? Depends upon what nationality you are!

There was British America, see British America
Which was followed by British North America, see British North America

And don’t forget New France, see New France
And New Netherlands, see Dutch Colonization of the Americas

I found it helpful to draw a timeline on a couple sheets of paper with the names and dates that I kept referring to. It’ll take a couple hours of research into the areas you are working in, but then you’ll have it.

Also, don’t neglect the many name changes of Mass Bay Colony and that whole area.

Your main decision is do you want to be historically accurate or not. It’s totally up to you.

I agree with you on the current situation, but genealogists are dealing with history for the most part.

Same things happened. The current situation may be current but it is not new!

“And don’t forget New France”
“And New Netherlands”

My point. Time and location make things different and are important. I have ancestor lines back to the 1st half of the 17th C in both categories. Nice to get the locations correctly named for the time in question. RM does a decent job with cities, counties, and states of the more recent periods in the US. Would like to see that for pre-1776 period as well. And wouldn’t it be great to have the remainder of the world’s geo/political changes to use?

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who deletes the United States of America in place names - I consider it understood. If there is something different then I will add it to match the period of time for that region.
Is there a way in RM to prevent “USA” from being automatically added?

My bad. I was thinking of the automatic add by Ancestry, Findagrave, etc. I do use “Keep Original Place” under “County Check Suggestion” when entering a place name.

Look at your “Places” and remove USA. Turn off County Check under Settings too

None of my current places have the USA addition as I eliminate it at the time of entering. But I did turn off the county check, thanks a bunch. Caroline

Well, it may be understood to others in the US but maybe not elsewhere. So if you are only going to share your research with others in the US there shouldn’t be any issues.