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Proformat News
No: 133
March 2017
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
12: 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:
  1. avoiding confusion about the location of precise locations of like named places
  2. saving precious space in confined fields such as those in pedigree charts

In this issue:
March Seminars
April Seminars

Feature article
Using place codes


Graham Jaunay
Glandore SA 5037

Proformat News acknowledges the support by awe AWE

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 ENG England IOM Isle of Man
IRL Ireland NIR Northern Ireland SCT Scotland
WLS Wales
English Counties to 1974
BDF Bedfordshire BRK Berkshire BKM Buckinghamshire
CAM Cambridgeshire CHS Cheshire CON Cornwall
CUL Cumberland DBY Derbyshire DEV Devonshire
DOR Dorset DUR Durham ESS Essex
GLS Gloucestershire HAM Hampshire HEF Herefordshire
HRT Hertfordshire HUN Huntingdonshire IOW Isle of Wight
KEN Kent LAN Lancashire LEI Leicestershire
LIN Lincolnshire LND London MDX Middlesex
NFK Norfolk NTH Northamptonshire NBL Northumberland
NTT Nottinghamshire OXF Oxfordshire RUT Rutland
SAL Shropshire SOM Somerset STS Staffordshire
SFK Suffolk SRY Surrey SSX Sussex
WAR Warwickshire WES Westmorland WIL Wiltshire
WOR Worcestershire YKS Yorkshire ERY Yorkshire East Riding
NRY Yorkshire North Riding WRY Yorkshire West Riding
English Counties post 1974
AVN Avon CLV Cleveland CMA Cumbria
SXE East Sussex GTM Greater Manchester HWR Hereford and Worcester
HUM Humberside MSY Merseyside WMD West Midlands
NYK North Yorkshire SYK South Yorkshire TWR Tyne and Wear
SXW West Sussex WYK West Yorkshire
Scottish Counties to 1975
ABD Aberdeenshire ANS Angus (formerly Forfarshire) ARL Argyll (Argyllshire)
AYR Ayrshire BAN Banffshire BEW Berwickshire
BUT Bute (Buteshire) CAI Caithness CLK Clackmannanshire
DFS Dumfriesshire DNB Dunbartonshire ELN East Lothian (formerly Haddingtonshire)
FIF Fife INV Inverness-shire KCD Kincardineshire
KRS Kinross-shire KKD Kirkcudbrightshire LKS Lanarkshire
MLN Midlothian (formerly Edinburghshire) MOR Moray (formerly Elginshire) NAI Nairnshire
OKI Orkney PEE Peeblesshire PER Perthshire
RFW Renfrewshire ROC Ross and Cromarty ROX Roxburghshire
SEL Selkirkshire SHI Shetland STI Stirlingshire
SUT Sutherland WLN West Lothian (formerly Linlithgowshire) WIG Wigtownshire
Scottish Counties 1975-96
BOR Borders CEN Central CEN Central
DGY Dumfries and Galloway FIF Fife GMP Grampian
HLD Highland LTN Lothian OKI Orkney Isles
SHI Shetland Isles STD Strathclyde TAY Tayside
WIS Western Isles
Welsh Counties to 1974
AGY Anglesey BRE Brecknockshire CAE Caernarfonshire
CGN Cardiganshire CMN Carmarthenshire DEN Denbighshire
FLN Flintshire GLA Glamorgan MER Merionethshire
MON Monmouthshire MGY Montgomeryshire PEM Pembrokeshire
RAD Radnorshire
Welsh Counties 1975-96
CWD Clwyd DFD Dyfed GNT Gwent
GWN Gwynedd MGM Mid Glamorgan POW Powys
SGM South Glamorgan WGM West Glamorgan
Irish Counties
ANT Antrim ARM Armagh CAR Carlow
CAV Cavan CLA Clare COR Cork
DON Donegal DOW Down DUB Dublin
FER Fermanagh GAL Galway KER Kerry
KID Kildare KIK Kilkenny LET Leitrim
LEX Leix (formerly Queen's) LIM Limerick LDY Londonderry
LOG Longford LOU Louth LOU Louth
MAY Mayo MEA Meath MOG Monaghan
OFF Offaly (formerly King's) ROS Roscommon SLI Sligo
TIP Tipperary TYR Tyrone WAT Waterford
WEM Westmeath WEX Wexford WIC Wicklow

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:
  1. ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 – two-letter country codes - used most prominently for the Internet's country code top-level domains.
  2. ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 – three-letter country codes.
  3. 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.
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.

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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