Places in Gramps

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What is a Place?

A Place in Gramps generally refers to where an event occurred. This is different to an Address (see for example Why residence event and not Address?).

The Places Places View lists all the places in your Gramps database, and is a handy spot to make sure your places are named consistently.

Organising your Places

There are several ways you could organise your places. The concept of a place in genealogy is very complex, due both to the level of detail you wish to capture, and the changes over time to the name of a place. Ultimately how much of this complexity you record in your database is up to you, but you will probably find it advantageous to consider your options before you have too many places in your data.

The summary below indicates some of the ways current Gramps users organise their places.

Place hierarchy

Gramps stores places in a hierarchy. Places at the top of the hierarchy are usually countries. The level of detail increases the further the place is down the hierarchy. Places at the bottom of the hierarchy represent small areas such as individual houses or burial plots. The hierarchy can contain any number of levels.

For example, Hobart in Australia would be stored as three places: Australia, Tasmania, and Hobart. Australia would be at the top level of the hierarchy and have a place type of Country. Tasmania would be at the next level down and have a place type of State. Hobart would have a place type of City and would be stored in the next level below State. Any of these three places could be referenced in an event.

Level of detail

The level of detail recorded for a place affects the number of places you have.

One option is to not include detail finer than town or city in a place. When further detail is to be recorded for an event, it can go in a note associated with that event. This has the advantage that your places are easier to manage, and can appear more consistent in reports. A disadvantage is that you may need to include the same note text against many events, for example if they all occurred at the one address. In Gramps 3.0 you can have multiple notes, making copy/paste of this address in a note easier. You could also add the place ones to the source used for the event. Another possible disadvantage is that the place details may not be displayed in reports in the way you wish.

The other extreme is to specify as fine detail as possible. A drawback is that you will end up with a very large number of Place entries.

An approach that is between the above two involves treating a place as a geographic location on the Earth. The land use (e.g. St Luke's Church) would be a note. How you identify the geographic location may not always be obvious: a street address (e.g. 25 High St) will often be sufficient.

Changes over time

A given place may be part of different regions or even countries over time. The Enclosed By tab allows you to specify these regions along with a date range. The default region, used for constructing the place title, is the first region in the list.

Data imported from older versions of Gramps (before v4.1), may contain an Alternate Locations tab. It is recommended that information in this tab is deleted and stored in either the Enclosed By or Alternative Names tab. When all information is deleted, the tab will no longer be visible.

Variations and different spellings of a place may be recorded in the Alternative Names tab.

Place Title field

The first field in the Edit Place window is generally displayed where space is limited, such as in some graphical reports. Gramps will populate this field for you from the place name and the names of all places higher in the place hierarchy.

However, some people like to put in here a short descriptive name. For example, for a location of Street: Rundle Mall, City: Adelaide, State: South Australia, Country: Australia, different people would set the Place Name field to one of:

  • Rundle Mall
  • Rundle Mall, Adelaide
  • Rundle Mall, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • Australia, South Australia, Adelaide, Rundle Mall

There are, of course, also minor variations on those listed above.

Editing Places

Fig. 1. Example Edit Place dialogue

Gramps provides a window in which you can edit a place:

Enter the Name and Type of the place in the fields provided. The Title and ID fields will be populated automatically by Gramps.

The Code can be used to store a country code or postal code.

The region in which the place belongs should be recorded in the Enclosed By tab. Every place except for countries should have at least one entry. Multiple entries are useful to record a place that has been part of different administrative regions over time. The first entry in the list will be used to construct default place titles.

Variations of a place name, such as alternative spellings, can be recorded in the Alternative Names tab.