Help:Place pages


Frequently asked questions

What is a place page?

The place wiki contains over 430,000 current and historical places. Each place has a wiki page, where you can find out and contribute information about the place. The wiki page for a place contains preferred and alternate names, place(s) that this place has been located in - both current and historical, latitude and longitude (for displaying on maps), places that are contained in this place, other places that are related, a map of the area, and an area for textual comments such as historical information and research tips.

What kinds of places can I create pages for?

Pages can be created for populated places (cities, towns, etc.), both current and historic, along with political subdivisions (districts, counties, provinces, etc.). Pages can also be created for cemeteries and military bases.
Please do not create places pages for:
  • Churches
  • Hospitals (discussion)
  • Schools
  • Street addresses
  • Rivers or other inland bodies of water
  • Specific oceans: please use "At Sea"

How do I find a place page?

Try finding your own birthplace's wiki page

This will give you a good tour of all the separate divisions that make up your place of birth
  • Click on the Admin tab in the blue bar at the top of the page
  • Click on Browse Pages
    • Select "All Pages"
    • Namespace: Select "Place"
    • Title: Enter the name of Your birth Country
    • Click "Go"
    • Result: The place page of your birth country should automatically load.
    • Example: United States
  • Scan the country page for mistakes. Edit the page to make corrections, if necessary.
  • On the left side of the country page, at the bottom of the Place information box, you will find a list of "Contained Places".
    • In the case of the United States it is a list of all the states.
    • Click on the page of the next place subdivision that contains your birthplace. (I clicked on Kentucky.)
  • Continue making corrections and clicking on more specific "Contained Places", until you arrive at the place page for your precise place of birth.
  • If a page is missing one of the linking places, or your place of birth, feel free to add a new place page.
    • Click on the Edit link and enter some new information about your place of birth. I listed the locations of a couple of cemeteries on Place:Beaver Dam, Ohio, Kentucky, United States. If you don't know anything significant about the place, ask a question on the page. Maybe someone will answer it!

To go directly to your specific place of birth

  • Repeat the example above but instead of entering "Your birth country" in the Title Field, enter the name of your birth city and click "Go"
  • A list of cities by that name will appear beneath the search box
  • Click on any of the blue links to be taken to that page
  • You can repeat this same procedure to find any "Place" in the world listed on WeRelate

For more information

How do I create a new place page?

If the page does not already exist continue with the following directions:

  • To add a place page, click on the Add tab on the blue bar at the top of the page and select Place.
    • Enter the name of the place in the "Title" field
    • For example, to create a place page for Chicago you would enter Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States.
      • The names for place pages should be "fully qualified", including city, county, state/province, and country.
      • It helps the wiki to be consistent in how Place pages are named.
  • After you have titled the page, click on "Add new page".
    • Fill in the edit boxes to the best of your ability
    • Click on the "Show Preview" button at the bottom of the page to see how your new page will look
    • Once you are satisfied with your work Add a comment in the summary field and Click "Save Page".
  • If you try to add a new page for a place that already exists in the system, no harm will be done.
  • If the place you want to enter has a similar name, but is different from the existing place in the system, you may need to add additional levels, or put the type of place in parentheses.

Who can edit an existing place page?

  • Any registered WeRelate user is encouraged to contribute to the place wiki. The information on the place pages is taken directly from various online sources Place Source Information. Sometimes, the information taken was incomplete. As a result, some places might not be properly categorized by county or state, while others might be missing alternate historical names. Pay attention to the place pages that are important to your research and feel free to edit them. We encourage you to be an active participant in the WeRelate community. See below for a list of ways in which you can contribute to the place wiki.

How do I edit a place page?

  • To edit a place page, find the page you want to edit and click on the Edit link under the blue bar at the top of the screen.
  • Make your changes
  • Click Show Preview at the bottom of the page to see how the page will look
  • Add a comment in the "Summary" field and click "Save Page"

What if the place page already has data from Wikipedia that I don't think is pertinent for genealogy purposes?

  • Initially information from Wikipedia was imported just so the page would not be empty.
  • You are encouraged to edit this information or remove it altogether replacing it with information more relevant to genealogy. Removing Wikipedia information does not violate any license.
  • If you would like to remove the wikipedia information and write your own history of the area, feel free to do so. There is nothing that says you can't improve on the text, especially for our more specialized purposes.
  • Edit the page as you would any other page. When you click on the edit link, you'll see the wikipedia template.
  • Replace the wikipedia template with your own text, but remember the wikipedia page name to use in the next step.
  • At the bottom of your text on the edit page, you need to add a template {{moreinfo wikipedia|wikipedia page name}}. This just tells viewers that there is more information over at wikipedia if they want to go there. This template is necessary because the WeRelate system uses it for updating links and other things. It doesn't suck Wikipedia articles back into WeRelate, so it won't mess up your new article.
  • Now you have a WR-personalized text with probably more focus and usefulness than what used to be there.

When will my changes start showing up in searches?

  • The changes you make to new or current pages take effect immediately.
  • The new page, or changes to an existing page, start showing up in searches the following day - the pages are indexed every night.

How do I tell what changes someone else has made to a place page?

  • Click on the History link near the top of the screen
    • This displays a list of all changes made to the page
  • For each change
    • You can see how the page appeared after the change was made
    • The date of the change
    • Who made the change
  • To see exactly what was changed
    • Click on the two versions of the page you want to compare
    • Click Compare selected versions
  • Here's an example where someone moved a section heading.

What if I want to leave a comment, but don't want to edit the page itself?

  • You can leave comments about any page on its talk page. Click on the Talk link below the blue bar at the top of the screen. When the page appears, click on Add Topic.

What if a place has two names?

  • In most cases, alternate names need only be noted on the place page for the most accepted name, however, in some cases it is helpful to have redirect pages created for the more popular alternate names for places on WeRelate. If a place has two equally popular names, having separate pages, or omitting one of the names, makes it more difficult for researchers to collaborate. In such a case, a place page should be created for both names, with one of the pages containing only an automatic redirect to the other place page. For example, many users have helpfully created redirects from state abbreviations to full state names.
  • If the alternate names for a place are simply due to abbreviations, for example St. versus Saint, then the main place page should be the completely unabbreviated name with any abbreviated versions as redirects.

How do I redirect a page?

  • If you wanted to redirect an existing place page to another place page, you would edit the page, leaving all edit boxes blank, except for the Text box, in which you will enter the redirect command.
  • The redirect command has to be on the first line of the text box
  • The redirect command is: #redirect, followed by a link to the page to which you are redirecting.
    • Example: #redirect[[Place:The name of the Place Page]]
      • Note there is no space between "#redirect" and the name of the place page.
  • You can also create a new page, for the sole purpose of redirecting it to a place page with a more standard name.
    • For example, say you wanted to create a redirect page for the abbreviation "IL" to the page for Illinois.
      • You would first create a blank place page entitled "Place:IL".
      • You would then enter: #redirect[[Place:Illinois, United States]].
      • Whenever someone tries to visit "Place:IL", they will be automatically redirected to Place:Illinois, United States.

How do I title places with jurisdictional changes?

Suppose you have a place that used to be located in one place but is now located in another. For instance, Ravenswood, Mason, Virginia is now Place:Ravenswood, Jackson, West Virginia, United States. In this instance, Jackson County has now been cut out of the early Mason County and after 1863 that area of Virginia became part of the new West Virginia.

We recommend that you list the place as "Ravenswood, Mason, Virginia, United States" since that's where the event took place, but that you link to Place:Ravenswood, Jackson, West Virginia, United States since that's the current name of the place. In addition, it would be nice if you edit the Place pages involved to tell others about the place movement:

If you do this, then future GEDCOM uploads will automatically link "Ravenswood, Mason, Virginia" to Place:Ravenswood, Jackson, West Virginia, United States.

How do I title American Colonies?

If the colony boundaries did not change much between then and now, add "Colony of X" as an alternate name to the state Place page.

If the colony boundaries changed significantly and you want to create a separate page for this place, follow the format as in Place:Plymouth (colony). By analogy to places like Bermuda and Isle of Man, colonies should be defined at the topmost level of the place hierarchy.

How do I include wikipedia text into the place page?

To link to the Wikipedia article about the place, add

{{source-wikipedia|title of the Wikipedia article}}

at the top of the Place page text. At the end of each week, the system will look for places with source-wikipedia templates and replace the source-wikipedia references with templates that insert text from the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article.

Including text from a particular section

If you want to also include text from a particular section of the Wikipedia article, say the History section, to the place page, do the following. Note: this is somewhat complicated.

  • Add the following template in the place where you'd like the wikipedia section text to appear, and save the place page:
{{Wp-title of Wikipedia article-section heading}}
  • Next, click on the red template link and and edit the template to create it. Enter
{{copy-wikipedia|title of the Wikipedia article#section heading}}

on the first line, and

<!-- This text is copied from wikipedia. Any changes made will be overwritten during the next update. -->

on the second line, and save the template. The system will eventually update the template to include the latest text from Wikipedia. This happens 2-3 times a year. If you don't want to wait for the automated update process, you can copy the text from the Wikipedia article into the template yourself (add it at the end of the template), but be aware that you have to clean it up a bit - remove templates and image references, and change Wikipedia links from [[article title]] to [[wikipedia:article title]].

General information

Ways to contribute

Here are several ways in which you can contribute to, and make improvements to the place wiki:

Adding research tips and histories

  • If you know something about a place that might be of interest to other researchers, please share it!
  • You can add research tips and historical information in the Text box near the bottom of the edit screen. If you add a research tip, please remove the {{place-stub}} at the bottom of the page.
  • Note: Some place pages contain text copied from Wikipedia. This text is stored in templates, and the templates are updated periodically (2-3 times a year) from Wikipedia. If you don't feel this text is appropriate or pertinent to family history, feel free to remove the template from the place page and replace it with {{moreinfo wikipedia|wikipedia page name}}.

Adding relationships and facts

  • If you know that a place (e.g., town or county) used to be part of a different place (e.g., county or state) than it is today, or if you have other facts about the place (e.g., alternate names), please edit the place page and add this information.
  • There are several boxes on the edit screen where you can add or correct facts and relationships about the place:
    • Preferred name Enter the current most-common name of the place here.
    • Alternate names Enter other names that the place has been known by over time.
      • Alternate names are used to expand searches for alternate place names when the "alternate names" box is checked.
        • Note: Changes that you make to the list of alternate names will start affecting how searches are expanded the following day.
      • Enter one alternate name per line. The format of each line should be:
        • alternate name|source
          • source is where you found, or how you know, that the place is or was known by the alternate name.
    • Type Enter the type of place this is (e.g., City, County, Department, Province).
    • Latitude and Longitude
      • Enter the latitude and longitude of the place.
      • Note: It is very helpful to enter this information into the Place Page, if possible, as it drives the automatic map displays.
      • To locate the coordinates for your place use:
      • You can also click "Larger Map" below the small map to the left of a place page. Clicking anywhere on the map will give you the coordinates for that location which can be used.
        • Once you have determined the Coordinates you can use one of these methods to enter the coordinates into WeRelate pages:
        • Enter the coordinates separated by colons: 54:30:31.93N
        • you can also enter Degree, Minute and Second symbols such as: 54°30'31.93"N
        • You can also enter in this manner: 40.146667N
    • Located in Enter the name of another place that this place is located in.
      • For example, Chicago is located in Cook County, Illinois
      • Enter the year range that this place has been located in the other place
        • You can leave the ending year blank if it is still located in the other place, or you can leave both years blank if you do not know them
    • Previously located in
      • Enter other places that this place has been located in over time. Enter one place per line
      • previously located in place is the title of another place that this place used to be located in
      • The format of each line should be:
        • previously located in place|from year|to year
      • You can leave from year and to year empty if you do not know them
    • See also
      • Enter other places that someone researching this place should also research. Enter one place per line
        • see also place is the title of the WeRelate place page that researchers should investigate
        • reason is a short explanation of why they should investigate the other place
      • The format of each line should be:
        • see also place|reason
  • Please feel free to add or correct any information on the page. It's a good idea to click on the Show preview button at the bottom of the page to see the effects of your changes. Don't forget to click on Save page to save your changes when you're finished.

Tagging duplicate places for removal

  • To create the place wiki we integrated information from several different databases. We did our best to remove duplicates, but many duplicate places likely remain.
  • If you find two pages in the wiki for the same real-world place
    • Please edit the one to be removed by adding the text: [[Category:remove]], followed by the name of the place of which it is a duplicate, to the Text edit box.
    • Example: [[Category:remove]] Place Page title
  • We'll review the place and merge it into the other one.

Adding "Contained Places"

  • When a new place page is created, the creator is prompted to include the place (i.e. county, state, country, etc.) in which the "new" place is located. When this information is entered, a link to the new place page is automatically included in the Contained Places box on the larger place's page. If a "contained place" is missing from the list on a place page, you will need to create a new place page for the "contained place". Enter the name of the place in which it is located, and the Contained Places list on the other place page will be automatically updated.

Titles for place pages

Place titles should follow a consistent format as far as possible. Typical place page titles for cities, towns, and other specific inhabited places should generally be "fully qualified", i.e., city, county, state/province, country. (Yes, even places in the United States should include the country. Not everyone is from the United States!)

Use type words in parentheses only if needed to distinguish the place from an existing place with the same name; e.g., Thornton (township), Cook, Illinois, United States as distinguished from the village Thornton, Cook, Illinois, United States. Here are some common examples:

Type of place Title format Example
US city City, County, State, United States Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
US township Township, County, State, United States Jackson, Hamilton, Indiana, United States
US township in a county with a town of the same name Township (township), County, State, United States Greensboro (township), Henry, Indiana, United States
US county County, State, United States San Diego, California, United States
US city in a county with the same name City, County, State, United States San Diego, San Diego, California, United States
US state State, United States Illinois, United States
US cemetery Cemetery Name, Township, County, State, United States Chester Friends Cemetery, Washington, Hamilton, Indiana, United States
English city City, County, England Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
English county County, England Nottinghamshire, England
German city or district City/District, State, Germany Frankfurt, Brandenburg, Germany
German state State, Germany Brandenburg, Germany
Country Country Samoa

Country-specific Guidelines

  • As the wiki evolves, each country's Place page should contain a discussion of how places within that country are organized and named. Discussions about the specific country policies should occur on the talk page for the country, and should add a link here. Currently active country-specific place-naming discussions: Place talk:Scotland Place talk:Norway
  • Please note that a wiki is by definition always a work in progress. Many of the place pages already created in the system follow this policy, but many others do not. Place pages not conforming to the policy should be renamed as the opportunity occurs.

Cemeteries as Places

  • Standard for Cemeteries discussion
  • Cemeteries as Places Discussion page.
  • To add a cemetery as a new Place click the "Add" link in the blue bar at the top of the page and select Place
  • Enter the cemetery title in the following sequence:
    • [[Place:Name of cemetery, Township, County, State, Country]]
    • OR [[Place:Name of cemetery, City, County, State, Country]]
    • Capitalize the word Cemetery and do not abbreviate. Example: Hayneville City Cemetery
  • Please add a link to the appropriate cemetery categories, such as the county cemetery category. Include the name of the cemetery as a sort key. (See the Cemetery Portal for types of categories.)
    • Example: [[Category:Cemeteries of Hamilton, Indiana, United States|Chester Friends]]
  • Example: Chester Friends Cemetery, Hamilton, Indiana, United States
  • See: Page Titles Help

Rationale (summary)

  • The rationale for this policy is summarized here. See this talk page for the full background that went into this policy.
  • Having fully-qualified place page titles makes places clear and unambiguous. (You may think that "Ontario, CA" is sufficient to identify a city in California, while someone else may look at it and think it refers to a province in Canada.) We have also tried to be consistent with other sources (such as the Family History Library Catalog) and common software packages.
  • Having the places named with a consistent scheme also facilitates automatic features (such as automatically providing drop-down menus for places, and automatically matching entered places against a known database of place names).
  • Note that although the place page titles may be long, you usually won't have to type the full name. When entering places into records, as soon as you type the first part, the system will automatically give you a menu of choices.

Places Source Information

WeRelate has integrated research by WeRelate users and administrators with information from Wikipedia, the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names, the LDS Church's Family History Library Catalog, as well as Ancestry's Red Book and the US Government's Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990.


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