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This is intended to be a place to discuss place names in Gramps.

Storage methods

When we think about places, we tend to think of them in our own situation. So, I might live at 135 Copley Place, Beverley Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. (I don't). I think of them, in order, as Address, Suburb, City, State and Country. Other places use different nomenclature - county, province, prefecture, name just a few.

In the world of databases, parsing an address like the one above would be most inefficient - if it could be done at all. It is better to use the database and its strengths to assist us.

So, I would prefer to think of all those geographic descriptors as "levels", starting with the country (we can all agree on that, I think) as the base level - Level 0 - and then moving on to Level 1 etc. Having defined our Level 0, all Level 1s are therefore sub-ordinate to it.

So the computer application will think in reverse to us, preferring to start with a country, then finding the names of the places sub-ordinate to it, and so on. Accordingly, the database setup needs to reflect this:

place# parent# level place long lati
1 0 0 USA W100.00 N39.00
6 1 1 California W119.300 N36.000
7 6 2 Los Angeles W118.230 N34.05
8 7 3 Beverley Hills W118.400 N34.07
25 8 4 135 Copley Place W118.4224 N34.0767

Other places in Los Angeles would "share" the first 3 rows in the table, but then start a new branch.


If there is a problem with this, it is that you might need to edit all the geonames in your family file. The strength of the process depends on strict adherence (and identical spelling) to the table structure.

Old place names

If you are going to add Google maps with references from, say,, then the old names for places won't be found. The easiest solution to this is to add the old names as notes, but map them with their current names.

Google Group

There is an interesting forum at