09 August 2008


When your family history research leads you to an unfamiliar part of the world it's useful, if not vital, to have a good atlas and/or gazetteer to hand. The GeoNames geographical database, which claims eight million geographical names including 2.2 million populated places, is available for lookup online and as a download, free of charge, under a creative commons attribution license.

I tried it and found Bradwell, Norfolk, one of the villages in England in which I once lived, was missed. All the other places I checked were found. You would probably be better off checking a national database first, like the Ordnance Survey site for the UK and the Geographical Names of Canada site.

I learnt about the GeoNames geographical database during a presentation by Dave Obee at the Genealogy and Local History (GENLOC) and the Reference and Information Services (RISS) sections of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) conference at Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, 6-7 August 2008

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