March Seminars & Heritage Walks
8: How to be a successful family historian (3rd of 7 weekly sessions) 8:00pm WEA Centre, Adelaide
April Seminars & Heritage Walks
2: SE cnr Adelaide heritage walk 2:00pm WEA Centre, Adelaide
9: SW cnr Adelaide heritage walk 2:00pm WEA Centre, bookings
English research 6:30pm WEA Centre, Adelaide
23: Nth Adelaide walk heritage walk 2:00pm WEA Centre, bookings
30: E of Victoria Square heritage walk 2:00pm WEA Centre, bookings
See the seminar program
for more details and bookings for 2017.
Using place codes
Using place codes to identify locations can be an important aid in family history for a number of reasons including:
- avoiding confusion about the location of precise locations of like named places
- saving precious space in confined fields such as those in pedigree charts
Using place codes
Glandore SA 5037
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This concept was pioneered by a series of abbreviations developed in the 1920s by the English Place Name Society. The scheme was developed and promoted by genealogist Colin Chapman, in the late 1970s to address the particular points raised above. His work was restricted to the United Kingdom and the counties existing in the 19th and 20th centuries.
His system involved two levels—country and county codes using three letters which were intuitive meaning that even if you did not know the system it was still likely you could recognise the place.
These codes proved popular with genealogists and in some case people like myself started to extend the concept beyond the United Kingdom in the 1980s using postal letter codes in upper case as had been the Chapman practice. In the 1980s most family history reporting was done on paper and preprinted pedigree charts and the like did not welcome lengthy addresses.
|Countries in the UK
|CHI Channel Islands
||IOM Isle of Man
||NIR Northern Ireland
|English Counties to 1974
||IOW Isle of Wight
||ERY Yorkshire East Riding
|NRY Yorkshire North Riding
||WRY Yorkshire West Riding
|English Counties post 1974
|SXE East Sussex
||GTM Greater Manchester
||HWR Hereford and Worcester
||WMD West Midlands
|NYK North Yorkshire
||SYK South Yorkshire
||TWR Tyne and Wear
|SXW West Sussex
||WYK West Yorkshire
|Scottish Counties to 1975
||ANS Angus (formerly Forfarshire)
||ARL Argyll (Argyllshire)
|BUT Bute (Buteshire)
||ELN East Lothian (formerly Haddingtonshire)
|MLN Midlothian (formerly Edinburghshire)
||MOR Moray (formerly Elginshire)
||ROC Ross and Cromarty
||WLN West Lothian (formerly Linlithgowshire)
|Scottish Counties 1975-96
|DGY Dumfries and Galloway
||OKI Orkney Isles
|SHI Shetland Isles
|WIS Western Isles
|Welsh Counties to 1974
|Welsh Counties 1975-96
||MGM Mid Glamorgan
|SGM South Glamorgan
||WGM West Glamorgan
|LEX Leix (formerly Queen's)
|OFF Offaly (formerly King's)
The Chapman County Coding was used in 1987 by the British Standards Institution as the basis for the preparation of British Standard 6879 and by the International Standards Organisation in Geneva when publishing ISO 3166-1.
The creation of International Standard codes for locations has enabled accurate but short addresses for the whole globe although the very large number of place codes has sometimes meant a loss of ready recognition! DZA is not obviously Algeria! We can also have some confusion even when using correct codes. Televised cricket uses SA for South Africa which is the standard code for South Australia. South Africa is ZA. Regardless we look forward to the day when all family historians adopt the standard codes instead of using a multitude of made-up material that may confuse!
ISO 3166-1 is the standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest.
It is further subdivided into three sections:
I favour the
three-letter country codes for countries because, notwithstanding the comment above, it allows better visual association between the code and the country name than is the case with the alpha-2 codes. This is a less easy option for regions as many just do not have recognised three-letter codes as in SA for South Australia.
- ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 – two-letter country codes - used most prominently for the Internet's country code top-level domains.
- ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 – three-letter country codes.
- ISO 3166-1 numeric – three-digit country codes which are identical to those developed and maintained by the United Nations Statistics Division, which assists people whose writing uses non-Latin scripts such as Chinese.
For less obvious regions I recommend using the regional two-letter code in conjunction with the country three-letter code.
Thus rather than using just AN for the Spanish region of Andalusia I would use the country code as a prefix, thus ESP-AN. All doubts are removed and there is no chance of duplication or confusion between SA and ZA as outlined above!
Probably the best site to locate codes at this time is Wikipedia: ISO 3166-1. About a third down the page you will find a list of all countries with their two-letter, three-letter and numeric codes and a link to their regions. If you are working in reverse and come across an unfamiliar code just Google ISO and the unknown code as ISO ESP-AN.
One final point. It is important to always cite the address as it was at the time. Thus in the case of Middlesex that was gradually swallowed by London we would expect to see the code used as MDX until the particular address was absorbed by London when the code LND would be used. Now this matter does create a few problems and the most significant relates to those counties with name changes.
For example the Scottish county of Forfarshire became Angus in 1928 and so technically the records predating this belong to Forfarshire and there is no code for extinct counties.
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