Place name variations during history


Hey there!

I’m new for Gramps, so it can be a simple question.

I’m organizing my places database with more than 20 generations that’s involving a lot of places during a big amount of time. Historically, administrative organization changes periodicaly due the country rullers, so…I’ve reached Germany’s places (a frightening country to understand the territorial organization).

The printscreen explain this case.

I need an opinion abou it based in two questions: 1 Which form do you apply for cities/villages during the time? 2 There is a gramplet or an addon with these history variation names?

For standardization, I’m using PlaceCleanup gramplet.

Thank you in advance.

I think that going with a minimalist approach would be a good ideas for now.

The 5.2 roadmap includes an evolution in the way Gramps handles Places and their changing geopolitical names & boundaries over time. And minimalist hierarchies might convert to the new form more easily.

And the Place Cleanup Gramplet already will populate the alternative names.


There is the GetGOV Gramplet. It is a 3rd party addon and can be added using the Third party addons management in Preferences.

You find on the GOV gazetteer the populated place you are looking for and the site will display its historical structure. Putting the place code into the gramplet will import that structure. The gramplet imports a lot of information and some of the “administrative” places you may not want to include. I opt for manually adding the information.

The site is focused on Germany and the various empires of central Europe. Information may exist for other countries but may not include the historical structure.

Before you use the app on your database, create a new family tree and explore what gets downloaded using the gramplet before using it on your tree.

The app uses its own Gramps ID number structure and when downloading new entries, it will automatically merge records with the same ID. You will still need to manually merge your existing places with the place record the app will import.

For the United States, I find the Historical Atlas from the Newberry Library helpful. No app available but a good resource for the dates when boundaries moved or renamed.

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Have you looked at DeedMapper?

It looks like a nice drill-down adjunct to Gramps. Someone will just have to work out a workflow for getting the KML outline of a property into the right place in Gramps so that it shows up on map plots.

(I had no success in recreating the example in the wiki. Nor could I gain access to the data used for the illustrations. So reverse-engineering the process to clarify the docs didn’t work out either. This is one of several places where example.gramps lacks the data to reproduce an illustration in the wiki.

It is particularly weak in GPS data to help new users explore the Geography view. Hopefully, we will get the file updated for 5.2 release. With Places being a major evolution for that release, Place documentation & support files will need a hard look but be under tight time constraints.)

Hi, welcome !

Time based: it’s the easiest to define. Merge similar places and define their hierarchy and names during times. I use a lot of literature to try to define precisely hierarchy timing, even if here in France some periods of time are easily known for place change (1789 Revolution signing the actual departments hierarchy, end of 1870 war for Alsace-Lorraine…)

Hierarchy based: it’s more complicated because, for the moment, one place can’t have more than one place type, it would have at least city and parish (after and before Revolution), but also when two cities as merged into one (like in previous picture), the absorbed city should change its type from city to neighborhood or something like that and it’s not possible now. I’m waiting for 5.2 for that. Here, the reverse, two places, one for the old parish enclosed by the city after Revolution and its diocese before;

Note for defining two times the same enclosure for a place with different dates like what I’ve done on first picture for Haut-Rhin I’d to change the PlaceUpdate gramplet like this to allow multiple dates for the same enclosure (@kku):

    def __set_enclosing_place(self, place):
        if not self.selected_handle:
        if self.__encloses(place.get_handle(), self.selected_handle):  # place should not include itself
            print("Can't set", place.get_name().value, "inside", self.selected_name)
        pname = place.get_name().value
        # PLX Change - Begin
        # From Reject same enclosed place to Reject only same enclosed place AND same date
        #if self.selected_handle in [r.ref for r in place.placeref_list]:
        #    print(pname, "already enclosed by", self.selected_name)
        #    return # prevent duplicates
        #print(pname, "<", self.selected_name)
        #placeref = PlaceRef()
        #placeref.ref = self.selected_handle
        placeref = PlaceRef()
        placeref.ref = self.selected_handle
        for r in place.placeref_list:
            if self.selected_handle in r.ref and ==
                print(pname, "already enclosed by", self.selected_name)
                return # prevent duplicates
        print(pname, "<", self.selected_name)
        # PLX Change - End

The current functionality in GRAMPS actually works quite well for the historic mapping.

For Germany I recommend GOV (GOV :: The Historic Gazetteer) to start with. I also recommend to avoid any place hierarchy for Germany that is done in the US, e.g. Ancestry and FamilySearch got it all wrong.

What I recommend in using GRAMPS is, that you not only work with the place hierarchy but also with the possibility to use different names over time. This is important, because the hierarchy may not change, but the name, e.g.

Kassel, Stadt Kassel, Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel, Heiliges Römisches Reich
Kassel, Stadt Kassel, Kurfürstentum Hessen, Heiliges Römisches Reich

the hierarchy is the same, but a name change occurred.

Yes that’s true with two exceptions that bug me currently:

  1. The place name length gets often much too long, because of the hierarchy with no satisfying way to shorten it
  2. There is no way to record place merge events and place split events

But both issues will hopefully be solved with Place Model Enhancements. :smiley:

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