Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the US Board on Geographic Names: Traditions & Transitions


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, DC.>>Douglas Caldwell: Good morning.>>Morning.>>Douglas Caldwell: My name is
Doug Caldwell, and I am Chair of the United States Board
on Geographic Names, or BGN. And on behalf of our
members and staff — [ Applause ] — it is really a great pleasure
to welcome you here today as we celebrate our
125th Anniversary. Our geographic names are
more than mere words. They are, as Terrence Cole
once said, compact poetry. Geographic names are endlessly
fascinating in the stories that they tell and the
stories of their origins. They reflect our cultural diversity,
our languages, our history, our environment, our
values, and our politics. Fortunately, geographic
names can also be confusing. There may be many names
for a single place. A single name may be
spelled many different ways. And many different places
may have the same name. And it is this confusion
that is at the root of the Board on Geographic Names. In early 1890 Thomas Mendenhall
from the Coast and Geodetic Survey and one of the founding
members complained about the confusion
caused by the lack of standardization of
names and spelling. He wrote to all of the federal
departments and he said, “You know, we have a problem. On our maps of your agencies
you are using different names for the same feature.” And he said, “Even worse, I can see on a single map a single
agency uses different names for the same feature.” Now I found this very
hard to believe, but it actually wasn’t too
difficult to find an example. So this is an 1883 Army
reconnaissance map of Alaska. And it has the name Chilkat Inlet
in the title, spelled with a K, and Chilcat Inlet on the
map spelled with a C. So this is not exactly
what we wanted to see. So what happened was he with Lieutenant Richardson
Clover got together and called agencies
together to discuss and resolve conflicts
in geographic names. So this was a tremendous example
of interagency cooperation, starting in 1890, for the
benefit of the federal government. So on September 4th, 1890 — it
was a day actually much like today; it was a nice fall day,
temperatures in the low 80s — President Benjamin Harrison
established the Board on Geographic Names.>>Hey, Doug. Excuse me, you want to
put it on slideshow?>>Douglas Caldwell: Oh, sorry.>>Hard to see in the back.>>Douglas Caldwell: Nope, nope. Thank you. There we go. Okay, the BGN’s mission was to
resolve geographic name conflicts and promote the uniform
use of geographic names for the federal government. Theodore Roosevelt
expanded the Board’s mission to include all issues related
to geographic names in 1906. And this was also done
by executive order. Congress re-established the
Board in its current form in 1947 under public law. So today the Board works conjointly
with the Secretary of the Interior who has ultimate authority over
the Board’s decisions and policies. Throughout the years the challenge of geographic names has
remained a constant. As much as in 1890, they
are still ambiguous, contested, complex, and changing. Yes, constantly changing. It’s hard to believe. For many it seems like
a glacial pace, but there’s a lot of
activity going on. In the BGN’s first year of operation
it processed around 2000 names, which was pretty remarkable for
the time, and a lot of work. In fiscal year 2014, the
last complete fiscal year, the BGN added over 700,000 new
names and made close to a million and a half edits in
the existing names. This was not an atypical year. So it is a great pleasure to
have you here today to reflect on our geographic names, to
celebrate 125 years of history of the BGN, and to
consider our future. Please, for you. Thank you. [ Applause ] Before we begin I’d like to
thank the Library of Congress for hosting this event, particularly
the Chief of the Geography and Map Division, Mr.
Ralph Ehrenberg — [ Applause ] — and Ms. Jackie Nolan
for making this possible. [ Applause ] I would also like to thank the
Philip Lee Phillips Society for their very generous sponsorship. This special group
develops, enhances, and promotes the collection of
the Geography and Map Division. Now I have a few routine
announcements. The corridors in the
building are color-coded. The restrooms are located
just off the lobby in kind of the back right-hand
corner as you exit the room. We’re going to have really
some very special events today. We have — we’re starting off
with the symposium this morning. We have a collection of true
national and international experts on geographic names who
are going to share some of their knowledge with us. And we have an amazing
open house this afternoon in the Geography and Map Division. That’s going to be
down in the basement. You’ll see some items here that
will only be on public display today in celebration of the
Board’s anniversary. We’ll talk a little bit more about
lunch as we get closer to lunch. Hopefully no one’s ready yet. And the Geography and Map
Division staff is in the lobby, and they can answer
any of your questions. So without further ado we’d
like to welcome Mr. Mark Sweeney who is the Associate
Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress is not
only the world’s largest library, but it’s America’s oldest
federal cultural institution. And it’s also the research
arm of Congress. Mark? [ Applause ]>>Well, good morning, and
thanks for that warm welcome. Again, I’m Mark Sweeney, the Associate Librarian
for Library Services. That’s the traditional part of the
Library, the part that acquires, describes, serves, and preserves
the Library’s vast collections. And on behalf of the Librarian of
Congress, Dr. James Billington, it’s my pleasure to extend a
warm person welcome to each of you this morning as we gather
to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the United States
Board of Geographic Names. Well, as was mentioned, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest
federal cultural institution. It’s also the world’s largest
single repository of knowledge and information, with a collection
of more than 160 million items. About 30 million books, but
most of the collection is made up of special materials, more than
5.5 million of which are maps. And names, of course, are a key
entry point into the collection. So one of our major objectives is to make this vast collection
more readily available to members of Congress. That’s mission one for us, but
also to the scholarly community and the general public
through cataloging and a variety of online resources. Standardization of names, places
is critical to these efforts. And that’s really across all of
the different formats and types of materials that we have in
our multifaceted collection. Among our most significant
cartographic holdings, which I believe you
will see this afternoon, is the Charles Pierre L’Enfant’s
original 1791 manuscript map of the city of Washington
which contains notations penned by Thomas Jefferson
to the map’s engraver. Two are related to place names, demonstrating that
this founding father, the one on whose personal collection
the Library’s vast resources of today rests, understood the
need for standardization of places on federal maps and documents
100 years before the U.S. Board of Geographic Names was established. When you look you’ll see that
Jefferson substituted Rock Creek for Pine Creek, annotated that, and
marked through the W in Potomac. I’m particularly pleased that this
celebration has brought together here at the Library of
Congress a gathering of distinguished place
name experts, geographers, and cartographers from
across the country. I hope that during your brief stay at the Library you will have an
opportunity to meet and interact with some of our expert staff as
well as examine the fine items from our collection
that the geography and map division will place on display specially
for you this afternoon. Because of the long and close
association between the Library of Congress and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names the Board was
actually housed here at the Library for a brief period in the 1920s. We are happy to have this
opportunity to host today’s event. I believe we also hosted the
100th anniversary event as well. In closing, as an old Federal
Depository librarian that selected, organized, and described, and
served government publications, I want to express the Library’s
abiding support for the Board and wish you continued success. Happy 125th anniversary, and have a
wonderful day here at the Library. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: Our
next speaker is going to be Dr. David Applegate who
is the Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Geological Survey. He’s representing the
Department of the Interior, which protects America’s
natural resources and heritage, which honors our cultures
and tribal communities, and supplies the energy
to power our future. The Secretary of the Interior, as
we mentioned, Ms. Sally Jewell, is the senior federal official
concerned with geographic names. She works conjointly with the
BGN to assure uniform usage within the federal government. David? Thank you. [ Applause ]>>David Stage: Well, thank you. And thank you to the Library of
Congress for hosting us here. Let me first off say how
pleased I am to be a part of this marvelous milestone
and for the opportunity to represent the Department of
the Interior and Secretary Jewell. I had an opportunity to discuss
this event with Secretary Jewell on Wednesday, and she sends her
regrets not to be here herself, along with her congratulations
on the 125th anniversary. You know, this is a subject that
is much on her mind of late. This is one of these issues
that may seem invisible for a while, and then it’s not. And that is very much the case. Earlier this month she signed a
Secretarial Order to make the name of North America’s highest peak
Denali, sing the authority she has under the 1947 law that provides
for the standardization of names through the U.S. Board
on Geographic Names. Names matter. In signing this order, Secretary
Jewell spoke of sacred status, of reverence of traditions. She also cited official state usage
and the strong support of the people of Alaska in her decision. All of these are the
sorts of factors that must be taken
into consideration. And then, of course, there’s one
more, and that reflects the policy that had been in place since
the 1960s for the Board to help protect it from any
apparent politicization, which was to avoid action when there
was pending congressional action. And — which was very sensible,
but it might have been used a bit by the Ohio delegation which made
sure there was pending congressional action for the better part of 40
years, since 1975 when the state of Alaska had originally
petitioned to make this change. So it turns out that that 1947 law
also states that action may be taken by the Secretary in any matter
wherein the Board does not act within a reasonable time. And speaking as someone who was
eight when that petition was made, and as someone who has a fair
number of white hairs in his beard, it seems reasonable to
me as a layperson, so — that she took this action. You know, it may not come as
much surprise that the Secretary of the Interior would have the
responsibility for standardization of names domestically given
that Interior manages more than 500 million acres of land,
about 1/5 of the nation’s land area. But the Secretary also has
the final responsibility in this conjoined responsibility for
standardizing foreign names as well. There are nearly four times as
many foreign names in the Board on Geographic Names databases
as there are U.S. names. And this really illustrates the
breadth and the global nature of this responsibility that the
Secretary and the BGN share. The Board itself, of course, is organized into two main
committees reflecting that, the — reflecting that dual roll,
the Foreign Names Committee, the Domestic Names Committee
are good friends and colleagues. The National Geospatial Intelligence
Agency supports the Foreign Names Committee while the U.S. Geological
Survey as part of the Department of the Interior supports the
Domestic Names Committee. Now as was noted in some
of the opening remarks, standardization may sound
like a mundane pursuit until you consider the alternative. What if there were no standards
for nuts and bolts, for tire sizes, for electric current,
or computer data? The standardized spelling and use
of geographic names that’s ensured by the U.S. Board allows the federal
government to communicate clearly and unambiguously about places,
reducing the potential for confusion and saving taxpayers money
It’s good government. In an age of instant
electronic communication and massive collections of
play space data, standards and uniform usage of geographic
names are more important than ever before. And that, you know, has
particular resonance standing here in the Library of Congress where
we recognize that this digital age and everything goes
actually increases the need for those synthesizers, for that
effort to try to be able to — when you search you
will actually find. The usefulness of standardizing
geographic names is well-proven, even if it’s often
taken for granted. The United Nations actively supports
international standardization of geographic names by
encouraging strong programs of national standardization. Indeed, more than 50
nations have some type of national names authority. So on behalf of Interior Secretary
Jewell I thank the members of the Board, past and present,
who have played a vital role in 125 years of names for America. Your continuing efforts in standardizing names have helped
advance government efficiency. And furthermore, I want to
salute the staffs of the — both the Foreign Names Committee
and the Domestic Names Committee, past and present, who have worked
with the greatest diligence across the years to
promote the understanding and standard use of
geographic names. And I wish you another
125 years of success in serving the American people. Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: Whoop,
start at the beginning. So now we’re going to go and
start with our series of speakers. So what they’ll do is they’ll talk
for a while, and we hope at the end of each presentation to
have at least five minutes for questions and answers. But there’s so much good
material we might not make it, and you might have
to talk at the break. Our keynote speaker this
morning is Dr. Mark Monmonier. He is the Distinguished
Professor of Geography at Syracuse University’s
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Dr. Monmonier is the author of
many books related to cartography, weather, climate, technology, and
society, including a volume focused on geographic names, “From
Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow, How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame.” Most recently he served as the
editor of volume six of “The History of Cartography, Cartography
in the 20th Century.” This is the definitive
history of modern mapping, and a monumental achievement. Dr. Monmonier is internationally
recognized on all things cartographic, and
I have to believe after doing that you probably know more than
anyone else could possibly know. He’s known for his meticulous
research and his willingness to tackle difficult and
controversial topics. Dr. Monmonier. [ Applause ]>>Mark Monmonier:
Well good morning. Thank you for inviting me. It was an honor to be asked
to give the keynote address at a symposium recognizing the
125th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Board on
Geographic Names. And particularly, I want
to thank Ralph Ehrenberg for making the initial
contact, and Doug Caldwell for handling arrangements
related to the program. And earlier draft of the
program suggested “The Power of Geographic Names” as
the title for my talk. I’m pleased that Doug
was enthusiastic when I proposed the title
that you see on the screen. I don’t like the word power,
which has been overworked by those who see the map as a
mysterious irresistible force, which is simply not true. In my experience the term
leverage is far more appropriate. If you have the apparatus for
compiling and publishing maps, the map can enhance or
leverage that power. That said, cartography
in its use of symbols and words is a distinct
kind of rhetoric. And in some situations maps can
attract attention, lots of it, especially when geographic
names are involved. Controversies over geographic names,
which became particularly prominent in the 20th century, show that
names on maps can be a forceful way of asserting ownership or control, or a way to denigrate a particular
group, perhaps unintentionally. Either situation invites
resistance, a pushback from people or organizations who
believe that other names, or names in some other
language or alphabet, are more appropriate or more just. More on this later. What are the roles
of geographic names? The most obvious role is to provide
a unique identifier for places and geographic features so that a
map user can assert unambiguously where he or she has
been or intends to go. This role of geographic names
underscores a key function of local or national naming authorities
like the Board on Geographic Names. Namely, the key function of
avoiding potentially fatal confusion between features, including
confusion about where to send the rescue helicopter
or order up surveillance in advance of an airstrike. Although GPS has increased the
use of geographic coordinates in emergency response and military
contexts, many of us rely more on names than on numbers. Much of the importance of geographic
names lies in the link they provide between map symbols
and everyday language, which in turn implies a need for
standards of grammar, spelling, syntax, and style, hence the
various rules that the Board on Geographic Names has crafted to avoid confusion and
needless complexity. A chosen hegemonic language,
English rather than Native Hawaiian, for example, or Hebrew rather than
Arabic, can be a strong statement of territorial control, and thus
a potential source of resentment. And even when language,
per se, is not an issue, a geopolitical reference
like East Sea or Sea of Japan can trigger a resistance. Another role of geographic names
is to commemorate an individual, a people, an event, a
place in a distant land, or anything else with a name. Personal names can be particularly
problematic insofar as people like to leave their own mark, as when wealthy real estate
developers plaster their names on casinos and office towers,
or on mountains, bays, rivers, and lesser geographic features
if they could get away with it, which calls for a referee
acting in the public interest, a referee like the Board on
Geographic Names which collaborates with a network of state-level boards
to circumvent potential conflict between people who think that
their favorite dead uncle is more deserving than your
favorite dead President. The rhetoric of geographic
names is a negotiate, reasoned, and inherently conservative
rhetoric, and a rhetoric that is resistant to change because too-frequent change can
be disruptive and confusing, not to mention expensive
if mapmakers want to keep their products up to date. An important point is that
geographic names are a public good, provided without private gain
to all members of society. Change might be warranted, but
it needs to be well thought out and perhaps responsive
to significant changes in public attitudes toward names
that have been publicly acceptable in the past but no longer are. By the 1960s, for instance, the
name Nigger Creek had become as offensively obsolete as Jim Crow
practices like segregated practices and race-based seating preferences
at lunch counters and on buses. At times civility demands that
some geographic names be changed. There is also a romantic
aspect to geographic names, as when they commemorate the
Revolutionary War heroes, Old World cities, or the
Ancient Mediterranean. And there’s also a bit of romance
in bawdy or irreverent names like Whorehouse Meadow which
local historians committed to authenticity will defend
vigorously should anyone suggest replacing them. Indeed, there is no better
argument for the importance of geographic names than
the controversies that arise when someone, or some organization, or some government agency
proposes changing them. Let’s examine some of
these controversies. Look first at the international
arena where names on maps, particularly names associated with
boundaries, are fighting words. Some names, like the territorial
control they represent, are so heinous that national
mapmakers refuse to put them on the map even when
it’s abundantly clear who controls a particular territory. My first example is a map I acquired at an international
cartographic meeting in the 1970s, in a brochure distributed
by the Survey of Jordan which pointedly denied the
existence of the State of Israel. My apologies for the
sloppy colors here. I cannot locate the original
brochure, and when I had scanned and photoshopped this map for publication decades ago I
needed only a black-and-white image. This is the best likeness
I could find. And despite the uneven hues,
it was too good to leave out. In this vein, Jordanian
cartographers erased Old Testament names from the map of the Holy Land. And the Palestinian Liberation
Organization counterparts who produced a Palestinian
map series on the cheap by photocopying Israel’s
one-to-100,000 scale topographic maps, replaced Hebrew
names with Arabic names, and substituted the PLO logo for the
Survey of Israel copyright notice. By contrast, on Israeli
maps Arab towns and villages in Israel carry their Arabic names, which appear on official
Israeli maps. However, because naming places
can be an important part of nation building, Israeli cartographers have
assertively added ancient biblical names. One can find some intriguing
examples. I am going to show
you two map excerpts which are a study in
change and contrast. This first example is from
the Haifa sheet of the map of Palestine published
by the British in 1943. The gridlines, which are a kilometer
apart, provide a sense of scale. The area is about 10
miles northeast of Haifa. Note the frame toward the lower
left which surrounds a small, [inaudible] like feature
marked by [inaudible]. On the second example, from the
same quadrangle sheet published by the Survey of Israel in 1988, the name in the Roman
alphabet is generally similar. The first word, spelled T-A-L-L
on the British map and T-E-L on the Israel map,
means hill or ruin. What’s noteworthy here is the
inscription of a Hebrew name to the left of the feature. Jump back to the 1943 Survey of
Palestine map, and note the frame around the village of Al-Birwa. Note also the two smaller
villages shown by dark splotches farther
south, Al-Damun and Ar Ruwais. And now look at the representations
on the 1988 Israeli map. Simply put, they’re not there. And not because the
mapmaker suppressed them. The villages are gone, dismantled. This slide shows resistance to the
Israeli removal of Arab villages from the landscape
as well as from maps. It was posted on the
website Palestine Remembered. The inset map at the upper
right locates the district of Acre in the north of Israel. And the main map and its
key below show 26 villages. This is an index map with links to
descriptions of the bygone villages. Note that the names are the links. It is part of the electronic version of what has been called
the Arab map of Israel. The map has been replaced
by Google-type maps, some with a satellite background. You can zoom in and click on one of
the red pins to pull up information about bygone villages no longer
identified on present-day maps. The names remain in the database,
though, and can be plotted on demand by their coordinates. Let me turn to a controversy
prominent in our own national media in the 1990s when Korea,
still smarting from the pain of Japanese occupation from 1910
to 1945, objected to Western maps in which the body of water
directly east between Korea and Japan was labeled
the Sea of Japan. Media were lobbied to
substitute the name East Sea, which refers to is
location east of Korea. Obviously the Koreans were not happy with the name Japan
immediately offshore. To acknowledge Korean concerns,
many atlas publishers added East Sea in parentheses directly
below the better-known name. The National Geographic Society,
because its atlas was not yet due for a new edition, offered
this cut-out-and-paste-in patch on its website. It’s still that way on
most cartographic websites. And the latest National
Geographic atlas uses both names with East Sea in parentheses. A similar controversy involving
countries on opposite sides of a large body of water is the
controversy over the Persian Gulf, the name favored by Iran,
but opposed by Saudi Arabia, which would prefer the
label Arabian Gulf. WorldAtlas.com is content with
the more widely-accepted name even for its map of the
United Arab Emirates. Google Maps has a clever,
21st century way of dealing with the conflict. When you or I ask to see its world
map only the name Persian Gulf is present. When you zoom in really close the
secondary name Arabian Gulf appears in parentheses. But because Google wants to avoid
having its web servers blocked by the web servers of Iran,
users with an IP address in Iran do not see
the name Arabian Gulf. But this accommodation
was worth the effort, reinforces the importance
of geographic names. And west of the Gulf, I am told,
the name Persian Gulf is suppressed. To deal with issues like
this for U.S. government maps and other publications, the
Foreign Names Committee of the Board on Geographic Names maintains
the searchable geonames database on the National Geospatial
Intelligence Agency website. A recent search for Arabian
Gulf revealed 14 substitutes for the preferred name Persian Gulf. Note that the screen includes links
to two online mapping websites, Google Maps and MapQuest. Click on the Google Maps link, zoom
in a bit, and you get a red pin with both the preferred
and the secondary name. Click on the MapQuest link, and
no matter how closely you zoom in is an unnamed purple pin. Curious as to whether this
might have been a fluke, I tried to find the Arabian
Gulf with a direct search from Mapquest.com and got nothing. Searching for Germany
and then scrolling down to the southeast
led me to the conclusion that MapQuest does not label bodies of water smaller than
the Arabian sea. One way to deal with
vexatious toponyms. For a while, around 2012, Google Maps deliberately suppressed
the name Persian Gulf on its maps, but apparently adopted the present
policy after protests from Iran. This seems a good place to note that the Domestic Names Committee
has a policy whereby once named, a place cannot be un-named. Un-naming might have been a welcome
strategy for dealing with names like these, excerpted from geological survey maps
published in 1936, 1982, and 1986. Like most — majority of toponyms,
they occur in sparsely-inhabited, relatively inaccessible areas. How these names wound up on
federal topographic maps is easy to understand. Topographers were sent into
the field and asked to measure and describe the landscape as
it was, at least to the extent that they could fit topographic
details, including place and feature names onto
a map published at one to 250,000, one to 62,500. In the pursuit of accuracy,
federal surveyors were required to ferret out local usage. Whether a toponym might be offensive
to some people was immaterial. What mattered was whether a name
was applied and understood locally. Toponyms typically consist of two
parts, a generic and a specific. This slide illustrates that the
J word as a specific was applied to a variety of generics,
largely in the Western states, with a noteworthy concentration
in the Pacific Northwest. Although J-word toponyms were more
common in the West than in the East, any correlation with a pattern of Japanese settlement
is faint at best. It’s inevitable that the racial
enlightenment that swept the nation in the 1950s and 1960s would make
federal officials uncomfortable, if not mortified, by the
flagrant use of the N word on the nation’s topographic maps. As best I can discern, the Washington establishment
was largely ignorant of the implied federal
endorsement of the N word until 1962 when Secretary — when the Secretary of the Interior Stuart
Udall, ordered its removal. USGS mapmakers responded by
changing all instances of the N word to negro, which was considered
acceptable at the time. Unfortunately, these
toponyms were replaced only when a map sheet was revised, which
in many cases meant replacement of the 15-minutes series by the more-details
seven-and-1/2-minute series over the next 20 years. The only other instance of blanket
renaming was initiated in 1974 when USGS mapmakers were ordered
to replace Jap with Japanese. If you’re curious about the
incidence of these toponyms, they are now online in
the web version of GNIS, the geographic names
information system. GNIS was started as a
one-state pilot project in 1976. Its earliest phase included
the capture of all toponyms on then-current federal quadrangle
maps, a boon for mapmakers and anyone else concerned with racially-offensive
place and feature names. The GNIS website now makes it
easy to identify offensive names which might survive in a
database as so-called variants, a designation that includes
obsolete names as well as non-standard spellings. This map shows the instance by
state of toponyms with the N word or two similar spellings. It is interesting to note that few
of the N-word pejoratives occur in the Southeast, the
part of the country with the most violent resistance to the Civil Rights
Movement in the 1960s. The source for this map
is the Omni Gazetteer, a multi-volume reference
work published in 1991 and based largely on GNIS. This more complete cartographic
summary is based on a snapshot of the GNIS database
obtained in 2003. The large number of N-word
pejoratives reflects what USGS called phase-two names compilation,
a piecemeal process contracted out on a state-by-state
basis and designed to identify additional
named features, not just those on federal maps. As the title indicates, these
names are mostly variants. Also based on GNIS, this
map shows the distribution of toponyms containing negro. As of mid-2003 none of
these were variants. Some, but not all of them, reflect
the blanket renaming of the 1960s. By century’s end negro had become
less acceptable as a substitute, but BGN rules rejected cumbersome
substitutes like African-American or the utterly generic B-L-A-C-K. Replacement names had to
be vetted individually by the locally-initiated process
used for un-named features. This slide shows the progression
of feature names for a place in Upstate New York along
the Lake Ontario shoreline between Rochester and Oswego. According to the town
historian, the original name, shown in the top frame from a
topographic quadrangle map published in 1943, reflects the
place’s role as a station on the Underground Railroad. Someone at USGS apparently
recognized it as inappropriate before
the Udall edict. The redacted version
in the middle frame is from a USGS map published in 1953. The lower frame is from a
New York State Department of Transportation
seven-and-1/2-minute planometric map published in 1977. I was unable to track down
the origin of the name Graves. Doug, when people here reviewed
my slides, somebody looked into the geonames database,
and Graves Point is not there. The only thing I can figure
is there is a road that goes up there that’s called Graves Point
Road, and DOT, being the Department of Transportation, I
guess, took it from that. And maybe somebody trying to sell
building lots up there figured that that might be more apropos. The most contentious renaming
issue involves the word squaw, deemed not amenable
to blanket replacement with Indian woman or clan mother. Like feature names containing negro, names with squaw must be
dealt with individual. This map, which they
made about 10 years ago, suggests the extent of the problem. Here’s a choropleth map which
reports the same data as the ratio. Each state’s count of
S-word toponyms was divided by its total number of named
features and multiplied by 100,000 to provide a more readable key. Note that the highest rates
are in Idaho and Oregon. For whatever reason, the lowest
rates are in the Southeast. Minnesota’s low rate, as of
2002, reflects a concerted effort to replace S-word toponyms
with acceptable substitutes. Although states and localities can
change toponyms their actions have no impact on federal maps and
databases unless the Board on Geographic Names
approves the change. Typically the State
Names Board must approve, and tribal officials are also
consulted for names on tribal lands or other areas in which the
tribe might have an interest. As this list of requirements
indicates, the process is bureaucratic,
but hardly daunting. How the nation deals with its
S-word toponyms will be a noteworthy concern for historians of
21st century cartography. Will political pressure
expedite the process? Will Native American leaders
give the issue a lower place on their agenda? Will majority public opinion
eventually find the word so offensive that public officials
at all levels are required to act? Will businesses cooperate or resist
when an S-word toponym refers to a branded tourist
destination like Squaw Valley? Native Americans are offended
by other kinds of names. For instance, the name Mount
McKinley for the tallest name in Alaska, also the tallest
mountain in North America. The correct name, which the Board
on Geographic Names recognizes, or would like to have
recognized, is Denali, an Athabaskan word
for “the high one.” The peak had several
names, including Denali, in 1896 when William
Dickey, an Alaskan prospector and Princeton graduate, proposed
naming it for William McKinley who had recently received the
Republican presidential nomination. In Dickey’s mind, McKinley’s strong
point was his spirited defense of the gold standard. In 1897 Dickey mentioned the
name Mount McKinley eight times in a short article he wrote for
“National Geographic” magazine, an article somehow
interpreted as an endorsement. The name was widely accepted by
1901 when McKinley was assassinated, and a grieving citizenry
began plastering the name of our 25th President on
high schools nationwide, as fans of “Glee” are well aware. Even so, Hudson Stuck, Episcopal
Archdeacon of the Yukon, preferred the name Denali. In 1913 Stuck became the first
person to reach the summit and described this accomplishment
in his book “The Ascent of Denali” published
the following year. Athabaskans had no voice on the
issue, nor did white Alaskans who pointed out that McKinley
had never visited the territory, which was accorded
statehood in 1959. Calls for renaming the peak
persisted, including a resolution by the Alaskan legislature. Finally in 1980, the National
Park Service changed the name of Mount McKinley National Park to
Denali National Park and Preserve. The Park Service can rename its
facilities without BGN approval if Congress consents, as it did. All the same, the name Mount
McKinley stuck for over a century because a single member of
Congress could block a name change by the Board on Geographic Names,
because one of its bylaws precludes, quote, a decision on a
name or its application if the matter is being considered
by the Congress of the United States or the Executive Branch, end quote. For a long time the obstacle was
Congressman Ralph Regula whose district included McKinley’s
hometown, Canton, Ohio. Shortly after a new
Congress was sworn in, Regula would introduce a bill
to keep the name Mount McKinley, basically, as Ralph tells me,
by threatening the USDS budget. Even though these bills went
nowhere they blocked any action by the federal Board. Now as we know — well know, the situation changed abruptly
last month, and for the good and long overdue, I’d say. Another names controversy related to a murdered President
occurred in 1963. In the week after the
Kennedy assassination, when the new President
Lyndon Johnson decided to put Kennedy’s name
on Cape Canaveral. Johnson was a forceful politician, noted for having rammed the
Civil Rights Act through Congress and sending a half
million troops to Vietnam. Florida residents were outraged. Because Kennedy was from
Massachusetts, they asked, why not rename it —
why not rename Cape Cod? Moreover, Canaveral was an old name,
having made its cartographic debut in 1564 on a map by French
artist/explorer Jacques le Moyne. In 1973 the Board on Geographic
names accepted Florida’s recommendation that the
original name be restored. By general agreement, the
prominent NASA facility on the Cape remained the
Kennedy Space Flight Center. Another consequence was the
establishment in 1984 of a rule that banned renaming
geographic features after people who had been dead less
than one year. In 1995 the waiting period
was increased to five years. The five-year rule caused
conflict with another state in 2003 when Arizona Governor Janet
Napolitano convinced the State Board, strong-arming them, to
rename Squaw Peak near Phoenix for Lori Piestewa, the first
female Native American soldier to die in combat. Napolitano saw Piestewa’s
death as an opportunity to expunge a prominent
derogatory name that had recently caught the ire
of Native American activists. Napolitano was no Lyndon Johnson,
and the Federal Board held fast until 2008 when the five-year
waiting period had passed. Hawaii was another state in which
indigenous people resisted the official treatment
of geographic names. The issue was not so much the
names themselves, but the system of Romanization that conspicuously
suppressed two diacritical marks, the macron and the glottal stop, both of which signify
important tonal differences. The macron is a short bar above
a letter, usually a vowel. Here’s a USGS map showing a
name rendered with a macron. And here is the same feature in
an excerpt from an earlier edition of the same quadrangle map. This earlier Romanization
affects other letters as well and shows two words, not one. This slide from a 1998 map has
two examples of the glottal stop which Hawaiians write as
a single open quote mark. In 1995 the Board on
Geographic Names relaxed the rule that had prohibited diacritical
marks used in Native languages in Alaska and Hawaii, and over the
next 10 years the federal Board approved several thousand
revised Hawaiian names in time for a major revision of
large-scale USGS topographic maps. Here’s the same feature on
an earlier map from 1954. Note that the two glottal stops
have been accommodated awkwardly by blank spaces. Another kind of geographic name
that might evoke a call for change, at least in some of the more
genteel quarters of society, are risque feature names focused
on excrement, bodily functions, and most of all the female body
which provides geometric metaphors for a variety of feature names like
Virgins Breasts and Nipple shown in this excerpt from a 1977 edition of the Geological Survey’s
Jonesville, Maine seven-and-1/2-minute
quadrangle map. The lure of, L-O-R-E and L-U-R-E,
of risque toponyms is epitomized by the saga of Brassiere Hills,
an off-again/on-again name of a twin-peaks feature 18 miles
Northwest of Juneau, Alaska. The name had appeared on a 1948
version, but not on the 1952 map from which I took this excerpt. It had apparently appeared on
an advance copy of a 1962 map, but was removed from
the final version. Here is is on the 1996 edition. I doubt that the feature would
have had a particularly risque significance until overhead imagery
revealed its suggestive tree line. This seems a good place
to wrap up [laughter]. Most of the examples I’ve shown
this morning are in my book, “From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse
Meadow,” which the University of Chicago Press published in 2006. The title was imposed by
the Press’s marketing people who considered my working title, Fighting Words, insufficiently
enticing. Well, if you don’t count Squaw, only two of the books eight
chapters deals with risque toponyms. In my opinion, Fighting Words, was
an apt and suitably broad title which captures the
importance of geographic names as words worth fighting over. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: We have
a few moments for questions, so if you have a question if you
could stand, and speak loudly, and Mark, thank you again. If you could repeat the question,
since you have the microphone.>>Mark Monmonier: Okay.>>Douglas Caldwell:
Then we will [inaudible]. Are there any questions?>>Mark Monmonier: Ah, yes, yes?>>Are you working
on a current book?>>Mark Monmonier: Yes, I am. Oh, okay, the question is am
I working on a current book? And the answer is yes, I am. If you’re curious as to what
it’s about, it basically looks at patented cartographic inventions,
which in producing volume six of “The History of Cartography,”
turned out to be a significant gap. We have one entry in there concerned
with intellectual property, and talks mostly about copyright. I think it has maybe about
three paragraphs about patents. There have been a lot of
cartographic inventions patented. I maintain that the patent
system functioned as kind of a parallel literature. In other words, we have the
standard — excuse me — technical, scientific, academic
literature of cartography, and general articles
refereed, and so forth. Well, there’s also a literature
produced by the Patent Office, “Published patents” and also the “Official Gazette”
of the Patent Office. There’s some interesting parallels because patent examiners
function as editors. We have also patent
attorneys who function in many cases as ghost writers. And it’s interesting to sort
of look at that and then find out some things that people reading
the cartographic literature and, in fact, the literature
of the history of mapping, seem to be largely ignorant of
a lot of these possibilities. There is very little cross-citation
between these two literatures. So thanks for the question. One over here.>>Using your history of name
[inaudible] what do you predict for renaming [inaudible]
the Confederacy?>>Mark Monmonier:
After the Confederacy? Boy, okay. Considering my work on geographic
names and the history of it, what do I predict on the
renaming of the Confederacy? Well, I don’t know how many toponyms
really involve the Confederacy, per se. You know, I would imagine that the
interest of, you know, authenticity, you know, places named Lee are
going to still be places named Lee. And I know there — I don’t have the
facts on the tip of my fingers — a lot of facts I don’t have on
the tip of my fingers these days as one gets older — but there was
a controversy somewhere out West about a place named after a
Civil War general involved in the slaughter of Native
Americans or something like that.>>Must be Harney Peak.>>Mark Monmonier: Harney
Peak, ah, good, thank you.>>That’s an ongoing –>>Mark Monmonier: And you know, and basically the Harney family
apparently does not oppose the renaming of the feature, and I guess
Board Members are not authorized to talk on their opinions
on the outcome of that. And frankly, I have no idea
where it’s going to go. It’s a question, I guess, of how
much, you know, pressure is made, especially at the state level
to change that name, and whether or not they can come up with
an appropriate substitute. And I would imagine that
if they try hard enough that should not be difficult. But well, that’s a good example. One thing that some people
have asked me, you know, about is the squaw issue. And it seems — and I mentioned
this in the talk, and the likelihood of any blanket renaming is nil. And some interesting opportunities
to actually identify local people, some Native Americans or some not,
or you know, maybe even species of birds or fish that would
provide acceptable substitutes. But I guess that — there’s been
significant progress made on that, and that is ultimately
going to, you know, I think maybe work its
way through the system. Anybody — yeah, question there.>>How do you personally feel about
applying hierarchy to generics such as river, creek,
stream, rill, rut, applied to a specific
size of a stream? Or what the difference is between
a hill, a mountain, and a peak?>>Mark Monmonier: Oh, boy. Okay, I guess the question is
concerned, again, with my opinion on the applicability of the various
generics, referring maybe to — in the case of hydrographic
features maybe stream flow, in the case of topographic features
— elevation features, height, and whether, you know,
hill or mountain. Okay, since you asked for my
personal opinion it probably — I doubt that the Board is going
to want to come up with a standard for what constitutes a hill,
what constitutes a mountain. You can probably figure that there
might be some cases which would come up where, you know,
calling some feature that is 11,000 feet tall a hill. I don’t know what the Board’s
feeling is about irony. And the same way, and I would
imagine there probably are some, you know, what you
might call gray areas — in the case of hydrographic features
blue areas — as to, you know — I mean, there are also other things. I mean, what is a cove? What is a bay? And I would imagine NOAA might
probably have some standards on that, too. You can see I’m sort of, you
know, hemming and hawing. And I guess I don’t really
have much of opinion.>>Douglas Caldwell: Why don’t
we let you off the hot seat?>>Mark Monmonier: Okay, oh,
thanks very much for you interest and thank you for your questions.>>Douglas Caldwell: —
anticipating the [inaudible], and I want to thank
you for sharing them. [ Applause ] Our next speaker is
Ms. Helen Kerfoot. She is the former Chair of the
United Nations Group of Experts on Geographic Names and
an Emeritus scientist for Natural Resources Canada. As UNGEGN Chair Ms. Kerfoot
promoted the significance of geographical name standardization for national geospatial
data infrastructures and for the preservation
of cultural heritage. UNGEGN is the international group who provides technical
recommendations on standardizing geographic names at the national and
international level. Drawing on her leadership
in national and international geographic names, Ms. Kerfoot will set global
naming practices in context and discuss the roles of national
naming authorities like the BGN. [ Applause ]>>Helen Kerfoot: Thank
you very much, Doug. And good morning to everybody.>>Good morning>>Helen Kerfoot: It’s a privilege
for me to be here with you today, and I was, in fact, here
for the 100th celebrations, so that makes me feel
doubly privileged. And at that time the Canadian
Board put out a special publication of its journal “Canoma” which
recognized really cooperation in toponomy between our countries. And they were all issues
which were of interest to both Canada and
the United States. So congratulations
now on your 125th. The BGN, I’m sure, receives
interesting inquiries. And when I was Chair
of UNGEGN I had — or we received one
rather curious one. A gentleman from Denmark wished to
name the point where zero longitude and zero latitude cross each other
In other words, something like this, or maybe it’s something
more like that. And he wanted to name it Anker
Point, which probably is a play on words for A-N-C-H-O-R. And he thought, or assumed, that United Nations
could, in fact, do this. Well, as you can see, it’s
not really a feature It’s not in anybody’s national jurisdiction. The United Nations does not have a
mandate to make decisions on names. The IHO, the International
Hydrographic Organization, cannot make that decision. And in fact, it seemed
like nobody could. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Anker is his family
name, so [inaudible]. I’ve mentioned the United
Nations, and you’ve heard that in fact they support
conferences and UNGEGN sessions
on standardization. This starts back in
1959 with a resolution of the Economic and Social Council. And the first meetings
were held in the 1960s. Since then there have
been 10 conferences and 28 meetings of
the Group of Experts. And it all started with the
idea of improving communication with geographic names, particularly
for the U.N. cartography, and the idea being of standardizing
spelling and also applications. And the basis for this,
as you’ve heard already, is national standardization. And that forms the background
for international standardization with appropriate Romanization
systems with a scientific basis. And the Resolution Four of the
first conference has lived on and still is one of our very
valuable resolutions making these statements. So if the basis is
national standardization, then the cornerstone is
the names authorities. So people ask, “Well, is
there a model to follow?” And clearly there isn’t. This depends upon the type
of government you have, the size of the country,
the population distribution, the number of languages,
and so on, and so on. We do have some sort of
basic thoughts on this. If there are — if there is no names
authority its probably the national mapping agency that takes charge. This is all right for
some countries, but in other cases it
means that many departments or agencies have overlapping
responsibilities and is rather a waste of
time and waste of resources. So UNGEGN does suggest that a
names authority be established. It could be a centralized one, particularly this is the
case in smaller countries. And Madagascar is mentioned
here, perhaps has the privilege of having the highest number of
members on its Board, 44 members, which sounds a little
unwieldy, but I guess may work. We could have a decentralized
authority where the decisions are made at the
regional level as, for instance, Canada has, and several
other countries. Or we could have the arrangement
like you have in this country with the BGN cooperating with
naming authorities at a state level. Now these are referring
to domestic names. When we look at foreign names
boards there are far fewer around the world. Certainly the BGN comes
to mind, obviously, and the United Kingdom’s PCGN. Poland and Bulgaria
area also countries that have foreign names boards. Now just as authorities come in
all sorts of different phases or different types,
so does the mandate of a board differ from
country to country. And most countries would have
a mandate with, shall we say, geographical features, and probably
with unincorporated place names, but relatively few, unless
they are smaller countries, would have authority
over street names. This usually comes down
to a municipal level. But when we hear about
China, who report to us that they need 20,000 new
urban names every year, you can see this is
not insignificant. And by that they mean
buildings, streets, suburbs, or completely new cities. And then the United Nations
tells us that by 2030 over 80% of us will live in
an urban environment. So street names are certainly
nothing to be avoided. They are all important to us. And you can see here a
few examples [laughter]. In 2005 the World Bank put
out a very interesting report and indicated that at
least 50% of city streets in Sub-Saharan Africa had no
names, and therefore, no addresses. And this was because the centers
of the city had become more dense, the urban areas had expanded,
and names had not kept up. Now this is very difficult
for individual identity, for bank accounts, or postal
delivery, or anything like that, for gathering taxes, for urban
planning, for following epidemics. With no names and addresses
this is a difficulty. So the World Bank did finance
several Sub-Saharan African countries to set up
street addressing, and associated databases, and maps. To start with they
suggested numbering systems, which you can imagine is not as
controversial as putting names. And then these could
be augmented later. So for instance, in Yaounde in Cameroon this first one
would be one of six zones. This is zone one, street number 74. In this case we’ve got a name added
as well as the zone 2 reference. And this one shows one of
each, one without a name, and one where a name has been added. So that was the approach
that was taken on that. If I can go back to the
level of national boards, most exist with some sort of
legal framework, an act maybe. And in the older acts
usually it was just described in a technical way
about approval of names. But in newer boards, as
in Burkina Faso recently, there has been much more about
the idea of cultural heritage, of conserving face names, or
preserving toponomic heritage of culture and of language. The same thing in Tunisia,
again in 2013 they talked about national toponomic heritage,
of preserving the specifics of Arabic, of the Tunisian
form of Arabic, ensuring that studies be undertaken
in — on geographical names. So in fact, toponyms do
link man to the land. They are points of reference. They are bearers of our
history and our language and carriers of our identity. So this brings up interesting
questions. The mantra in the past, particularly
from cartographers was one name for one feature, or university. And Nameless Cove is
in Newfoundland, so don’t take offense from that. But it brings now the question of should there be multiple
names recognized in the languages of the country, reflecting,
perhaps reality, if you like to put it that way. This is in Norway with
Norwegian Sami language and [inaudible], or finish. There’s another example in
Slovenia with the Italian added, and there are many more examples
we could give of multiple naming. This is New Zealand where
names might be in [inaudible], or they might be in English. Or in the two examples
shown there are various ways of having combinations of names. This, of course, does bring
questions for cartographers. And this is in northern Finland
with three names for Inari, although I just learned last week that there are now
five names for Inari. And the Finnish way of
handling this is you either on a map show all the names,
or you omit the altogether. You do not just pick
one or two of them out. And in Canada this year we
have increased the names for the Mackenzie River,
and we now have seven names in the local languages
of the Mackenzie Valley. Still have to figure out
how we’re going to deal with this on maps, incidentally. I’d like now to look at something
about the sort of time frame when national authorities
have been set up. The United States Board,
as you know, from 1890, was the first national board
established in the world. Canada was shortly after that, for
similar reasons, the settlement in the West, and the confusion
of names that were taking place. Four other countries,
Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, and Ireland all had
boards established by the end of the Second World War. And now in our sort of latest
figures we have got some 80 countries that have
national authorities. And this would mean, again, dealing with domestic names
rather than with foreign names. Most recent of these are Saudi
Arabia, and Burkina Faso, and Tunisia that I
mentioned, Sri Lanka, the Foroyar area of
Denmark, and so on. But we do have to be fair on this,
even though they’re established by law, there are some boards that
are clearly not really functional at the present time, to
be encouraged, obviously. If we look at this on a basis of a
map, the green areas are countries that have national
names authorities. The purple-y color are the ones that
without national names authorities. And the orange-y/brown-y color is
where we still have to do a bit of work on this where
the status is unclear. Now before you all jump all
over me and say, “Oh, no. I disagree with this. I disagree with that
one,” let me say that these countries have
self-identified these. This is not something
that we have imposed. They have said, “Yes,
we have a board,” or, “No, we don’t have a board.” And of course, you can see from
the date at the top this is sort of ongoing and changeable. And I could point out that
the number of countries in Africa grew considerably in the
’60s when they gained independence and set up their names authorities. And then similarly, in countries
that came from the breakup of the Soviet Union or from breakup
of Yugoslavia were quite quick to establish names authorities. For those countries that
don’t have authorities, this can be quite a hard sell for us to convince them that
it would be useful. Of course, we can’t compete with
water and health, nor can we compete with trying to have accommodation
of some sort, living facilities, or with education, with food supply,
or with transportation routes. But basic to all those
agencies is the use of standardized geographical names,
even if it’s under the surface and not clearly recognized. So we can talk about the
benefits of standardized names, and we can do this on a
sort of overlapping basis. This is just in general terms. We might talk about technical
benefits, for instance, in different forms of mapping
and information management; of economic benefits for
clear delivery services and promoting your tourism it’s
better not to have ambiguity. If we’re talking about social
benefits you’ve got humanitarian aid and search and rescue where
you certainly don’t want many different names. And we can talk about
cultural benefits and the idea of retaining your language, or in terms of identity
ambiguity is not very helpful. Some examples of lack
of standardized data or standardized names, in Pakistan
— this was back in 2005 — the United Nations Office for
Humanitarian Affairs was dealing with rescue operations
or aid operations after the earthquake
up in the mountains. And there were all sorts of
delays in providing assistance to these remote villages partly because they could not
obtain standardized names. The coordinates weren’t
available for the villages. There were no gazetteers
to be handed out. They didn’t know the
population statistics. And they didn’t have maps
So all this, of course, contributes to thousands of people
who lost their lives as a result of this earthquake and aid
not reaching them quickly. By contrast, a year or so later
Indonesia had similar problems, but their data was
in much better shape and was much more helpful
to those providing aid. A similar one, this is in Somalia, and this is the United Nations
Economic Commission for Africa. And you can see on the list here
they are providing different forms for the names in Roman alphabet. And they found that duplication of
names, repetition, obviously lack of standardization, and the
data not even being available for some areas had a lot
of significance to them. They lost resources. Security could be compromised
over this. There certainly was confusion with
these multiple spellings of names. And this also led to
bad decision-making. So this is some of the difficulties when you don’t have
standardized names available. So I think we’re clear
that we still need to encourage national names
authorities, and we also know well that crises don’t stop
at national borders. So we do need to have cooperation
between countries for databases and for making information
available. I just want to look at other
international organizations. And I still have a few minutes here. The International Hydrographic
Organization — I know there are people
here involved with that — it is a coordinating body
for hydrographic agencies and for the work that they do. It is not a decision-making
body in the terms of names of oceans and water features. Although, obviously through
“Limits of Oceans and Seas,” one of their prominent publications,
they do have an influence. And that, as you know,
they’re still trying to be updated from the 1953 edition. The Subcommittee on Undersea
Feature Names relating to IHO does have decision-making
authority, and meets once a year, and decides on the names of undersea
features that have been submitted to it, and keep an online gazetteer
which everybody can access. Another international group — which I cut the slide because I
thought I wouldn’t have enough time — is the Scientific Committee
for Antarctic Research. They are a gathering group rather
than a decision-making group. And I know they have
something like 39,000 names for some 17,000 features
because they gather the material from the different countries. And I believe the U.S. have
contributed something like 1/3 of the names that are
in that database. And then we — lastly, we go
beyond Earth and out into space to the International Astronomical
Union and one of its working groups. The IAU has been in
effect since 1919. And I think particularly with
Sputnik in 1957 and man on the moon, if you like, in the late ’60s, there was much more general public
interest in features on planets, on moons, names outside Earth. In other words, toponyms
rather than geographic names. And they set up the Working Group on Planetary System
Nomenclature in 1973. Now themes have been established
for naming with this working group. And just quite recently there were
some craters named on Mercury — this was earlier this year — and they have a theme of
artists, composers, and writers. And I was quite interested to see
that a famous Canadian photographer, Karsh, in fact, was put forward
and now has a crater named for him. He’s not alive, so
he won’t know that. So they are moving towards a
public involvement in these, either by contest, which that
one was, and chosen by the IAU and this working group, or as we saw
just recently, planets associated with other stars and how
they’re now having public input and public voting in fact, more
crowdsourcing of information. Right. So just to finish
off, I would like to say that I’m sure we certainly have
continued need for standardization of geographic names
to protect heritage, to integrate with other
place related data. As you’ve already heard,
the geographic name is one of the main aspects that the general
public will use to query databases, so it’s an important entry
point for place-related data and for linking them together. There’s still a need for
accurate and up-to-date records. It’s greater than ever. Although it may be challenging to name authorities today I think
we have to keep up with life, we have to grasp the opportunities
of today’s communication, and this probably means
going to crowdsourcing, which I know for a name’s
board is quite controversial, but I think we’ll hear
about that this afternoon. So, thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: At this
point do we have any questions? Kenneth, you can stand up.>>Helen, I’m curious if you
have some valid information on legalities regarding
[inaudible] copyright and resource [inaudible]
that you can tell us.>>Can you repeat the question?>>Helen Kerfoot: Yes. The question was, have we
compiled anything about legalities of geographical names and copyright?>>I’m sorry. I should clarify. [ Inaudible Speaker ]>>Helen Kerfoot: Ownership of list of names rather than
individual names.>>Good.>>Helen Kerfoot: Okay. No, I would say that UNGEGN has
not dealt at all with ownership of names or lists of names. I think perhaps here you’re talking about databases and
this sort of thing. All right. No, I guess we’re trying
to encourage countries to make their geographical
names data available for free. But, as you know, this is
not the case particularly for many countries in Europe. These names are not
available for free as a group. Some countries have moved in
this direction, though Finland, for example, now has its names data
and other topographic data available to the public without charge. There are other issues, of
course, of ownership of names. This does come up with
indigenous or aboriginal names, and really whether these
names belong to the Earth and to the people, whether
everybody has access to these names. There are many interesting
questions there, too. But I think that’s perhaps different
from the question you posed. So I can’t say we have done
much work on copyrighting, no. I’ll put it down for
future reference [laughter].>>Yes. I [inaudible] decided
you had to show the country that had more than those that didn’t
[inaudible] you said, don’t quote me on this, but I was just [laughter]. It’s only that I’m
looking at that map and I see quite what you’re
saying, but in addition to the board’s itself, there
are other organizations. We have National Mapping [inaudible]
for instance, that take on the role of standardizing for these
[inaudible] geographic names. What I was going to ask you
is, in your experience dealing with [inaudible], do you feel like that that’s generally speaking
a good thing for various countries like Mexico with their
[inaudible] or others like that? Thank you.>>Helen Kerfoot: Thank you, Leo. This is quite a controversial
topic I think, the question of whether
a mapping agency sort of constitutes a names authority and
whether that’s the best way to go. I think there are some countries
like you mentioned, Mexico. I think Egypt’s probably
another one where the statistics and the mapping agency are
together, and perhaps some of the South American
countries, too. People would say this is probably
the best arrangement for them. But we have found in other areas
like when we’ve been working with countries in Africa. This isn’t necessarily
the best way ahead. The mapping agencies are weak. They’ve, for instance,
I was thinking of Burkina Faso before it got
the names authorities there. Out in the countryside you
saw several names on a sign, and one of them might be
some sort of local spelling. Another one was perhaps the
French way of pronouncing it. So you got Geekum [assumed spelling]
Tango and Geekum Tingo which were — both been on the sign and
essentially the same thing. Nobody was really taking
charge of those. So it seems easier and avoids
overlap of effort, I think, so that many different
departments are not spending money on the same sort of thing, to
have a group which advises now. It doesn’t mean the mapping agency
wouldn’t be the lead on this, but at least they could involve
others like transportation and agriculture and other groups
into the naming authority. I think that’s the way
Burkina Faso’s gone, and also Tunisia has gone. So I don’t know if that kind
of addresses your point, but I think it can be good, and
it’s certainly a starting point. But maybe we want something where the names can be
used more universally. Sometimes when it’s the mapping
agency that’s the only authority that’s the only use these names
have, and they don’t make it into the media, and they don’t
make it into other uses outside that government department.>>Thank you.>>Helen Kerfoot: All’s quiet? Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: Okay. So now in this next session before
lunch we’re going to have two talks that are going to focus
specifically on the BGN. Our first speaker is Captain
Albert E. “Skip” Theberge, who’s a retired NOAA Corps
Officer, and who currently works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s
Central Library. Skip served on the
BGN’s Advisory Committee for Undersea Features for 12 years. He’s written over 75 articles
on the history of the Coast and Geodetic Survey
and Ocean Sciences. Skip will talk about
the origins of the BGN. As an historian Skip is like a
crime scene investigator [laughter]. He will take us where
the evidence leads. Skip. [ Applause ]>>Albert E. Theberge: Thank you, and as I was telling a few
folks here, I have a number of friends in the audience. I hope they still are after I’m done
[laughter], but we’ll find out here. We’ll get going. Okay. I received, when I
was asked to do this — I really was not overly
knowledgeable in the history of the BGN, and I’d really like to
offer recognition of Don Orth who’s in the audience here today who
really has delved into many of the nuances of the history and
just glad he’s here and I use some of his work to help unravel this. So I have this little
brochure that was sent to me. The wording in this was a
little different than what’s in the brochure you have today. Okay. Domestic names. The origins of the US BGN can be
traced to the surge of exploration, settlement, and economic
exploitation of the American West
after the Civil War. Contradictions and
inconsistencies concerning names of geographic features were a
serious problem for surveyors, mapmakers, government officials,
and scientists who required uniform and unambiguous geographic
nomenclature. In 1890 President Benjamin
Harrison created the Board and gave it the authority to
resolve unsettled geographic names questions. Well, that just about
says it, so no. [ Laughter ] Okay, so. Okay. Glad a few folks laughed. That was good. Okay. Now, getting a
little more serious. The BGN has its intellectual roots
in the earliest map-making efforts. As societies became more
complex, the necessity to name and define geographic
entities assumed increasingly greater importance. These names were incorporated in
maps, charts, gazetteers, peripli — that includes portolani, routiers,
rutters, coast pilots, et cetera — census listings, and
related documents. This is an early example. I canvassed a number of people
for pronunciations, so forgive me. The Tabula Peutingeriana
dates to Emperor Augustus, 555 city names, 3500 place names. Approximately 15 B.C.E.,
produced under the direction of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Moving ahead 200 years,
we have Claudius Ptolemy. He put together a listing of
8000 place names with his version of latitude/longitude coordinates. TheDoomsday Book— that’s how
I’m informed it’s pronounced — put together in England at the
behest of William the Conqueror over 13,000 place names ordered by
county and hierarchy of ownership. Those of you who are
concerned with the IRS, maybe the pronunciation
is Doomsday [laughter]. So, moving head. The Cassini map of France. Four generations of the Cassini
family put this map together. It was based on — first map of a country based on
geodetic principles. Sixty-two thousand place names were
included on this particular map. Going across the Atlantic, we don’t
think of Noah Webster as having much to do with geography, but his 1802
American Spelling Book
had a listing of, spelling
and pronunciation of selected place names in the
United States, so most states that existed then and
the major cities. He was trying to impress
his will on the spelling of these areas’ features. Two years later we have the
Lewis and Clark expedition. This is November 7, 1805. Well, we’ll go three years later. “Ocian in view! O! the joy.” “Great joy in camp we are in view of
the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long
anxious to See.” That was William Clark, all right. In one sentence he
basically gave the reasons for the Board on Geographic Names. [ Laughter ] Actually the — and with that
I’d say that — two things here. He finally found the — he
completed the connection between the Atlantic
and the Pacific. For the first time the true
nature of our continent and nation was understood. There was still a lot of exploration
had to go on, but William Clark and Meriwether Lewis were the first. Okay. In my opinion, and once again
I’m starting from a view that — I sort of came into this cold. The history I really wasn’t aware of
so I sort of just did my own thing in thinking about how
I would approach this. What I discovered was that the
Post Office was probably the first government department that
was really truly concerned with orthography of place names. They published lists of post
offices of the United States, the names of postmasters, the
counties and states, et cetera. Okay. So this is an example page on
your right as you’re looking at it. They also published as
well as these listings — well, backing up a little bit. The post offices grew from
75 in 1789 to 7,003 in 1827; 18,417 by 1850; and 62,000 by 1890. Besides naming new post offices,
many were either stricken from the listing over
time or renamed. The Post Office kept track of
all these changes through time. The early 1900s, I read one article
that stated that there were 30 or 40 new names of post offices
per day that were being brought to the — well, it was necessary
the Post Office to keep track. They also had a cartography
department. This is the legend of the first
United States Post Route Map, 1796. Abraham Bradley, Junior. I didn’t look into his history. That should be fairly
interesting in itself. This is what the map looked
like, and looking at a blow-up, this is the Washington to,
let’s see, Washington area up the Philadelphia Corridor. You can see place names, you can see
mileage between various post offices on this and the routes
that were followed. The Post Office had
a great tradition. By the late 19th century they
were making beautiful maps of other post routes of virtually
all United States states. Okay. Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler
came to the United States in 1805. First Superintendent of the
United States Coast Survey. The Coast Survey was among the
earliest mapping agencies concerned with orthography. This is a quote from Rear
Admiral Benjamin Franklin Sands, a naval officer who was assigned to
the Coast Survey in the 1830s/1840s. Actually worked with
Ferdinand Hassler. “He was quaint in his language,
particularly in his orthography, cautioning his assistants always to
inquire closely into the derivation and spelling of the names of
localities in our surveys. He would never accept the
spelling of ‘Neversink, one of the prominent
points near Sandy Hook, but insisted upon ‘Navesink’
as the correct orthography; and upon every name put down by us on the charts he would
make his comments.” So here we have the first
chart of the New York Harbor. We see — Well, somewhere here is Navesink. Yeah, Navesink. Yeah, here we have Navesink
lights, and that’s what it’s been. Neversunk, Neversink,
Navesink, and so it is today. Both of those first
terms were actually — showed up on various nautical charts
through time, prior to the adoption of Navesink as the
correct orthography. Alexander Callas Bache, for
those of you who wish to know. There was always a Bache
or a son of a Bache in the Coast Survey [laughter]. He was a great grandson
of Benjamin Franklin, second Superintendent
of the Coast Survey. He issued instructions
concerning the correct orthography of place names. Also commissioned the first study of Native American place
names that I’m aware of. There could be others
that occurred before that but I’ll stipulate that
this was the first. This is an 1853 chart of Neah
Harbor which is just east of Cape Flattery, Washington. A couple of things
you can see on it. There are a number of Indian place
names, Neah being one of them. Watta [assumed spelling], Island,
Battah [assumed spelling] Point. Virtually all of these names
are still on the chart, but we also see Anglo-English
terminology and we see the Spanish version of
the Greek pilot’s name Juan de Fuca. So the United States has always
had a mix of various languages, the various explorers,
they’re echoed in the place names of our nation. Eighteen-fifty-six Bache
commissioned this list of park bays, harbors, and anchorages
of U.S. waters. There were about 500 at the time. This was to establish the,
once again, correct orthography to be used on the charts that
were produced by the Coast Survey. The signature, A.P. Hill, a
future Confederate General. The Coast Survey, prior to the Civil
War, had about 70 Army officers, many generals that were
attached to the Survey, and about 400 naval officers
of which about a hundred ended up being admirals following
the Civil War. Once again, Native America names. “The transliteration of Indian
names has everywhere been a fruitful source of differences in spelling, inasmuch as no two persons
understand alike or render into the same English characters
the obscure sounds of Indian names.” That was in the second
report of the Board of Geographic Names,
published in 1899. Eighteen-sixty-eight annual report of the Superintendent
of the Coast Survey. We have this letter from
the Reverend Edward Ballard. “I have the honor to present
to you the following attempt at an examination of the
geographical nomenclature of the coast of Maine, for the
purpose of furnishing a list of the names of Indian origin,
with their proper orthography, as far as it now can be ascertained
and their interpretation.” So this was a list. It was probably about a
20/30 page listing that was in the Annual Report of the
Coast Survey for that year. Eighteen-sixty-nine, following
the inspection trip to Alaska by George Davison, a
Coast Surveyor in 1867. He published the first
Coast Pilot of Alaska.”
Within that Coast Pilot— oh, and I would like to
pay homage to Miss Kerfoot. She mentioned the list
that occurred, listed maps, and I guess I’m going
through a list here as well. But, anyway. Eighteen-sixty-nine. There were hundreds of place names
of Indian, Anglo, Spanish, French, Russian names that were included
in that particular document. The commercial entities
also were interested in orthography and place names.Gazetteer of Railway Stations
in the United States and Dominion
of Canada 1874publication. If I remember correctly, there
were about 4000 place names that were included in
that particular document. So this brings us up to 1890. These two men, Thomas Mendenhall,
Superintendent of the Coast Survey, or Coast and Geodetic
Survey as it was then known. Lieutenant Commander Richardson
Clover, he was the Superintendent of the Naval Hydrographic
Office and also the Naval — well, the Hydrographer of the Navy. They met in the first week of 1890 to discuss problems
with Alaska place names. Mendenhall expanded the concept to include all government
agencies concerned with nationwide orthography. He wrote to other agencies
suggesting formation of a board to discuss names issues. An informal board was formed
that brought the names issues to the attention of
President Harrison. He concurred and issued an
Executive Order dated September 4, 1890 that stated, “As it is
desirable that uniform usage in regard to geographic nomenclature and orthography obtain throughout
the Executive Departments of the Government, and particularly
upon the maps and charts issued by the various Departments
and Bureaus, I hereby constitute a
Board on Geographic Names.” That Board was composed of
Mendenhall as the first Chairman, Herbert Gouverneur Ogden,
Henry — of the Coast Survey, also a Vice President of the
National Geographic Society, Henry Gannett, Chief
Geographer of the USGS, Secretary of the National
Geographic Society, and Lieutenant Richardson
Clover, Hydrographer of the Navy. This comprised the
Executive Committee. It prepared the material for
the full Board to review. The remainder of the Board was
comprised of Otis T. Masson, a Smithsonian Ethnologist, Captain
H. L. Howison, United States Navy, of the Lighthouse Board, Andrew
H. Allen of the State Department, Marcus Baker of the USGS and a
National Geographic Society Manger, Pierson Bristow of
the Post Office — couldn’t find a picture
of him [laughter]. Sorry. That is his grave. He’s there. Okay. Major Thomas Turtle,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Okay. I’d like to return
to this thought. “After the American Civil War
there was a surge of mapping and scientific reporting associated
with the exploration, mining, and settlement of the
western territories. Inconsistencies and
contradictions among the many names, their spellings, and
applications,” et cetera, et cetera. Very similar to the wording of the
brochure that was at the beginning. Now I went through the first
4000 names that were decided upon by the Board of Geographic
Names and attempted — well, in my way, analyzed them to
check whether or not that was a — if that statement or some other
statement would better describe the work of the Board. It would seem that if the
above statement is correct, that was related to
the western states, decisions concerning western states
place names, particularly those of the [inaudible] west should
dominate the early activities of the BGN. Alaska also, because of the
initial meeting between Mendenhall and Clover, has also been
invoked as a prime mover for the formation of the BGN. Okay. So here’s the — here’s Bulletin Number One,
1890, December 31, 1890. Alaska, 155 decisions. That sure looks like Alaska’s
driving the whole thing at that point in time. Next closest state, Maine, with 15. But then we look at
the [inaudible] west. We have Arizona, New
Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, zero. I skip ahead 10 years here
because a nice convenient number, more than anything else, and I
figured 10 years we’d be able to see the priorities of the Board and to some degree also what really
led to the formation of the Board. So, the Second Report
was published in 1899. Now, looking at generic terms within
the Board, Civil Terms like towns, cities, even railroad
stations, post offices. There were 2132 decisions. Nautical Terms, and by that
the sort of thing you’d see on nautical charts, 1,496. Terrestrial Physiographic
Terms, 172. Post Office, 1045 decisions
in that first 10 years. Townships, 436. Islands, 358. Railroad Stations, 330. Then we start dropping
down significantly, but these were the generic
features with over 100 occurrences in that particular document. There were over 40
additional generic terms found in the first 10 years of decisions, most of which are nautical
in nature. Regional Decisions
by BGN 1890 to 1899. Decisions east of the
Mississippi River, 2319; west of the Mississippi,
1297; foreign, 503. Highest number of names decisions
per state in the first 10 years of the BGN, and this was like approximately
one-third of the decisions. New York came in first,
258; Alaska, 228. Keep in mind that the
first bulletin had 155, so there were 73 additional
decisions in the next 10 years. Then Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, California. We get a western state,
a coastal state that had been a state since 1850. Then New Jersey. That’s the middle third. Just significantly there is no
[inaudible] state in that group. Then when we go to the bottom
24 states and territories, I have a total of 593 decisions. New Mexico anchors the mass at three
decisions; Nevada, seven; Arizona, eight; Idaho, nine;
et cetera, et cetera. Now if we put this into map form, initially we see the cumulative
blue states or the top third of names decisions
during that period. We have the Eastern states. California is a coastal
Western state, and Alaska were the top
third of the decisions. The red states were
actually the bottom bunch that were mentioned,
the 24 bottom states. White states being sort
of the middle of the road. We put that into a cartogram. This is the relative size of an
area or relative size as a function of the area of the state
and the number of names. Now the East Coast dominates. California shows up
and Alaska shows up. The West is disappearing. Looking at it a different way,
seeing if maybe it would come out a little different which, I
guess, rationally it shouldn’t have, but names decisions per
thousand square miles per state. This is a statistic I made up, a
measure of BGN decision intensity on the [laughter] — well,
what else would you call it? I don’t know. But anyway, with that, Washington,
D.C. only having 68 square miles and eight decisions sort of wiped
out the statistical package, but the rest, the next nine,
Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Connecticut,
Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, all Eastern states. Then we look at the 10
lowest intensity states — Montana, South Dakota, Utah,
Wyoming, Texas, North Dakota, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona,
and New Mexico. Then we look at that map form. First of all, the red being the
lowest, blue being the highest, once again dominated by the East. Here we have a cartogram that
the West totally disappears. I can’t resist this. Texas has decision names envy. Okay, never mind [laughter]. New Mexico disappeared. Idaho virtually disappears. The rest are pretty hard to
find, at least by the algorhythm that was used to develop this map. So, let’s look at Alaska. That’s also been invoked. Beginning in 1869 with the
George Davidson Coast Pilot. That was followed by
William Healy Dall. All of these had hundreds
if not thousands of — at least a couple of thousand
names associated with them. William Healy Dall, also of the
Coast Survey, Pacific Coast Pilot, Coast and Islands of Alaska, 1879. Go to Marcus Baker. He was Dall’s assistant on the Coast
Survey before going to the USGS as did Dall in the 1880s. Then Herbert Gouverneur Ogden. He worked on Alaska for
the BGN, 1890 to ’93. So Alaska and the BGN. Two or three hundred
Alaska names presented to the Board early-on
for consideration. First Bulletin of the BGN
reported 155 Alaska decisions and 241 Alaska names superseded,
the majority of which were coastal. The magnitude of Alaska names
decisions issues became apparent, so the Board appointed
Marcus Baker of the USGS, and Herbert Gouverneur Ogden
of the CNGS as a committee to research Alaska names. By 1893 Ogden had compiled 2400
names in Southeast Alaska; Baker, 1900 names for the rest of Alaska. Work stopped for eight years
after that time on Alaska. Thence the first great
territorial compilation of names was published by the BGN. A year later, the Alaska compilation
was published by the USGS. That first great compilation by
the BGN was the geographic names of the Philippine Islands. So, ask how that happened. Okay. That was brought forward by the Naval Hydrographic
Office, published 1900 or 1901. I can’t read this right now — 1901. That was based on the atlas
of the Philippine Islands which was produced by the Coast
Survey, and that was based, in turn, on the work of Father Jose
Algue of the Manila Observatory. So, next year, 1902, Marcus
Baker’sGeographic Dictionaryof Alaskawas published. How does this compare to USGS efforts concerning place
names during the formative years of the BGN? Well, Henry Gannett,
the Chief Geographer of the USGS published the
following Geographic Dictionaries between 1894 and 1906. Massachusetts, New Jersey,
Rhode Island, Connecticut. We get to Kansas in 1898. Then after the first 10 years, Utah is the first [inaudible]
state, 1900. We go Puerto Rico, Texas,
et cetera, et cetera. Okay. My conclusions that may not
be somebody else’s conclusions, are an analysis of the work
accomplished in the BGN early years. Number One, numerous governmental
organizations had been wrestling with problems of orthography
for many years prior to formulation of the BGN. Two, although the Alaska
meeting of Mendenhall and Clover was the catalyst
for the formation of the BGN, they recognized that it, a BGN, was an idea whose time had
been a long time coming. As opposed to names issues with
frontier areas, both the BGN and its member organizations, including the USGS were more
concerned with the highly developed, more heavily populated
eastern states. Four. Needs of communication,
transportation, and commerce followed
by diplomacy, defense, and exploration were the driving
forces dictating the formation of the work of the BGN. A final thought. In 1816, Ferdinand Hassler,
Founder and first Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey,
wrote, “The duty of every man is to be honest and to do good.” The United States Board on Geographic Names embodies
that spirit and concept. Its work is one of the
invisible underpinnings of our civilization and society. Its work has truly done good,
in the best sense of the word, for our nation and citizens. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Thank you, Skip. Do we have any questions? Yeah.>>Albert E. Theberge: Yes, sir.>>Please stand and — oh.>>Loved your presentation. I have a comment on the — I’m
a student of Alaska history. I would suggest that the discovery
of gold in Juneau in 1880, and the subsequent discovery
of gold in the Klondike in 1896 might have had a huge
influence, because of the number of ships that were taking
people to Southeast Alaska.>>Albert E. Theberge: Yeah. I would concur with that,
particularly the 1896 and the — I guess the — that was we’re
going to the Klondike and — Marcus Baker in his introduction
to theGeographic Dictionaryof Alaska, he made the statement
that the Director of the USGS came to him at the time and said we need
to get theAlaska Dictionarygoing because we need this for
our work now at this time. It had been put on the back burner for a bit following the initial
meetings of the USBGN but because of the gold rush and
the influx of people, I’m sure that was the
driving force, ultimately, behind finishing theDictionary
of Alaska Place Names
. Don Orth may have a
different view on that, maybe. Okay. You’re good with it. Okay. Any further questions? Okay. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: Okay. Our next speaker. We’re very fortunate to have Miss
Sandra Shaw here with us today. She worked at the CIA and
the Department of State, and was the first woman
to chair the BGN. Among the assignments during her
distinguished 31-year Federal career, she served in
the Department of State as the Deputy Executive
Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. She was also the Chief of
Cartography in the Office of the Geographer where she
oversaw cartographic support for key diplomatic initiatives. Given her experience with all facets of the BGN she is exceptionally
well-qualified to help us better understand
how the Board has evolved. Sandra. [ Applause ]>>Sandra Shaw: Thank you very much. I’d like to thank the U.S. Board in
Geographic Names and its Chairman, Douglas Caldwell, for inviting
me to participate today in this 125th anniversary symposium. It’s an honor and a pleasure
to be here, to be re-acquainted with former BGN colleagues,
and to meet current members and the many distinguished
participants and guest who have gathered today to recognize and honor the extraordinary
work of the BGN. Captain Theberge has presented you
with a fascinating introduction to the origins of the BGN. Its evolution’s been a
journey down a long, winding, and sometimes weary road from its
creation in 1890 to its expansion of authority in 1906, its
abolishment as an independent agency in 1934, the granting of its
statuatory authority in 1947, and the eventual transfer
of the domestic names to the Geological Survey, and the foreign names
to the Army Map Service. The BGN has endured the 125-year
journey through the dedication and innovation of its
members in support of their respective organizations. Sixteen years after
its establishment, President Theodore Roosevelt issued
an Executive Order which added to the BGN “the duty of determining,
changing, and fixing place names within the United States
and insular possessions. All names suggested for
any place by any officer of the government shall be referred
to the Board for consideration and approval before publication.” A second Order was issued in August
10th changing the official title of the United States
Board in Geographic Names to the United States
Geographic Board, and granting it advisory powers
concerning the preparation of maps compiled in the government
to avoid unnecessary duplication of work and to unify and
improve map scales and symbols. The Board would only
hold the advisory powers for 13 years before they
were transferred in 1919 to the newly established
Board of Surveys and Maps. The new authorities
presented the Geographic Board with a formidable task. With only 13 Board Members, most
of whom held senior positions in their respective
departments, no staff support, and an edict that the Board and
its work would entail no expense on the government [laughter]. Lack of staff and funding would
persist throughout the history of the BGN, even after it gained
statuatory authority in 1947. In my discussion of
this period of 1906 through 1934 the Geographic
Board will simply be referred to as the Board. The records did not reveal why or by whom these new
authorities were proposed, but it seems reasonable that
the Board itself sought broader authority to maintain uniform
usage of names in the government. Additionally, many Board Members
were involved in mapping activities, including its Chairman, Henry
Gannett, Chief Geographer of the Geological Survey, who is
often considered to be the father of topographic mapping
in the United States. Henry Gannett chaired the
Board until his death in 1914. On his deathbed, he was informed that he had again been elected
Chairman, and he replied [laughter], “You were determined I shall
die in the harness, and I will.” The last of the original
BGN members, Mr. Gannett was also a founder of
the National Geographic Society and concurrently served as its
President from 1910 to 1914. You’ll hear more about the BGN and the National Geographic
this afternoon from Mr. Valdez. Following the 1906 actions,
the Board moved quickly to develop principles for new names. It streamlined the
names approval process and addressed the advisory
powers, establishing a committee to standardize map symbols. By 1911, the Board published
conventional signs adopted by the United States Geographic
Board that provided a standard set of signs, symbols, and
abbreviations for use on all government maps and charts. The work of the Board was primarily
conducted by the Executive Committee with their recommendation
of names decisions sent to the full Board before
promulgation. However, to expedite the new duties, the Executive Committee’s
authority was expanded to approve or reject all new names submitted by
the Geological Survey and the Coast and Geodetic Survey without
waiting for Board approval. The Chairman was to act
on behalf of the Board in all names submitted
by the Post Office. Postal names had been confusing
and an issue from early in the Board’s history,
with many instances of the Post Office and
town name differing. There was a new urgency in the
approval process since between 30 and 40 postal names
were established daily. Between 1906 and 1934, the
U.S. would enter World War I and suffer the Great Depression. But through these events the Board
made progress, no matter how slowly. World War I, unlike World War II,
did not require mass production of foreign names and had minimal
effect on the work of the Board. If anything, it slowed
the work since many of the members were
away at war duty. This was a period of Board outreach. It established an Advisory
Board of outside specialists, enlisted the assistance of
state names authorities, and encouraged establishment of
such authorities where none existed. It strengthened and developed
international collaborative efforts with names authorities such as
the Geographic Board of Canada, the Royal Geographical Society,
and the Permanent Committee on Geographic Names for
Official British Use, and also increased the focus
on foreign geographic names. Also, after 30 years of
requests for funding, the Board received its first direct
appropriations from Congress. Starting in 1920 and continuing
until it was abolished in 1934 as an independent board,
it received about $79,000 in direct appropriations. That would approximate about
1.2 million in 2015 dollars. The funding peaked in 1934
which reflected the salaries of the Chairman, the
Secretary, and Assistant Clerk, all devoting full time
to the work of the Board. Another Board first would come
in 1925 when the first woman, Dr. Helen Strong, was
appointed to the Board by the Department of Commerce. She had prepared a
Congressional study on U.S. foreign agricultural trade
that garnered her the position of Geographer of the Bureau of
Foreign and Domestic Commerce. During her nine-year tenure on the
Board she would be instrumental in the Board’s work on
foreign geographic names. Dr. Strong is seated in the lower
right of the 1932 Board photo. Since World War I there had been
a growing need for decisions on foreign names within
the government, as well as the private sector. In 1926, Board Chairman, Frank
Bond, appointed a committee to consider the entire
subject of foreign names. The final work of the Committee,
composed of Dr. Samuel Boggs of the State Department and Dr.
Helen Strong, was published in 1932 as the Board’s “First Report
on Foreign Geographic Names.” It was a tutorial on the treatment
of foreign names addressing policies and procedures, guides for
transliteration, pronunciation, abbreviation, and even gave tips
on proper business protocol, as well as a list of 2500
foreign names decisions. The report gained press
coverage, even a quarter column in theNew York Times
titled, “Foreign Place Names.” The reporter observed, “One of
the evidences that we’ve come into a consolidated world is a
United States Government report about the spelling of
foreign geographic names. If only there had been
added another hundred pages by some Homeric Earth wanderer who
had seen the cities of many men and learned their manners, it might
easily be the book of the month.” Though the report was well-received, the Board conducted practically
no other work on foreign names until it was faced with
the monumental task of standardizing millions of
names in support of World War II. I call 1934 “The Board’s Waterloo.” April 17th, Franklin Roosevelt
signed an Executive Order abolishing the United States Geographic
Board and transferring all of its functions to the
Department of Interior. The Executive Order attributes
the President’s actions to the 1933 Reorganization Act, but
there also seems to be a back story to the President’s actions. It involves his Secretary
of Interior, Harold Ickes, and Hoover Dam. At inception, the Dam Project
was simply known as Boulder Dam. But at the ceremony to start
the project Hoover’s Secretary of Interior, Ray Lyman Wilbur,
announced, “I have the honor and privilege of giving a
name to this new structure. It shall be called Hoover Dam.” When Roosevelt took office in
1933, his Secretary of Interior, Harold Ickes, changed the name to
Boulder Dam, justifying his action by saying, “The men who pioneered
this project knew it by this name.” Ickes’ action was not without
critics, some writing directly to him and others to
the Geographic Board. It seems Secretary
Ickes was not pleased that a Federal Authority existed that could overturn
his naming action, so in 1934 Ickes drafted the
Executive Order to abolish the Board for Roosevelt’s consideration. The Director of the Bureau of the Budget advised
Roosevelt against such action. However, he did not heed his advice. It created concern about many in the
government as well as in the private and scientific community,
including Dr. Isaiah Bowman, a member of President
Roosevelt’s Science Advisory Board and Former President of the
American Geographical Society. He wrote to the Secretary indicating
he had read about the abolishment of the Board and hoped
that “If it is discontinued under its present name its
functions will be carried on as effectively as in the past. It is of great importance
from every standpoint that such an organization
should exist in the government. Under no circumstances
should this work be assumed by an outside agency. It would be a relatively simple
matter to set up an adequate Board in the Department of Interior.” Bowman closed his letter by offering
his services to discuss such a plan. Secretary Ickes actually may be
credited rather than vilified for providing a home in which the
Board could more easily structure and ramp up its work to effectively
support the upcoming requirements of World War II. Also, if the Board had
maintained its independent status, would Dr. Meredith Peat
Furrell [assumed spelling], a Geographer in the Department
of Interior, be in the history of the BGN or International
Standardization of Geographic Names? Following the transfer the
Secretary established the Division of Geographic Names and an Advisory
Committee on Geographic Names which has centrally
mirrored the membership of the abolished Geographic Board, but also included individuals
representing a number of geographical societies. He appointed Walter Mendenhall,
Director of the Geological Survey and nephew of BGN Founder,
Thomas Mendenhall, as the Executive Officer
of the Division. Shortly afterward,
Mendenhall recommended that an authoritative name
for the two units was needed for publication of names decisions. At first, Secretary
Ickes was not receptive to essentially reestablishing the
BGN, but reconsidered upon advice of Dr. Bowman, and issued a
departmental order explaining that for simplicity of reference, these two units together will be
designated United States Board on Geographical Names. At the first meeting of the Advisory
Committee, Secretary Ickes said he and the President were both
opposed to naming place after living persons, and that he
had more than once been shocked by the names selected for
some of our natural objects. Names of people that the
American people would like to forget have been affixed
to the objects that were inanimate and thus unable to
protest [laughter]. “I hope that this Committee will
adopt a policy of not yielding to political pressure in
such an important matter as the selection of a name.” Until World War II, the work
of the BGN was conducted by the Executive Committee and the full Board met
only about once a year. In 1941, the BGN broadened
its responsibilities to include the standardization
of traditionally or newly named undersea features,
which led to the establishment of the Advisory Committee in
Undersea Features in 1963. With 3- to 400 domestic names
decisions published yearly, the BGN did practically
no work on foreign names. Upcoming American military and intelligence requirements
brought sweeping change to its work and would be the coming of age of
BGN’s foreign names activities. With the U.S. Declaration of
War, the BGN entered a new era of production that no
longer allowed the luxury of approving individual names. For the first time, the Board
had ample staff and funds to support its work, or at
least its work on foreign names. Through an agreement between the
Interior and the War Department, approved by the President, the
War Department transferred funds to reimburse Interior for the
BGN foreign names activities. As you can see, the funding peaked
in 1944 which came to about $400,000 that they were transferring
into Interior for the Board’s work
on foreign names only. Secretary Ickes selected
Dr. Meredith Burrill, a Geographer serving as the
Chief of Analysts and Research in the General Land Office, to lead
the reorganization of the Board. In a 1967 interview, Dr.
Burrill indicated that he was about the only Geographer around, “so the Secretary of
Interior picked me.” By the end of 1943, the Division
had increased from a pre-war staff of two to of about 180, which
included geographers, cartographers, linguists, historians,
librarians, and clerks. In the words of Dr. Burrill, “The task of making ready
these geographical tools of war was not unlike that faced
by the manufacturer of airplanes.” The goal that had to be attained
would have been considered fantastic before the war. The name of the Division was changed
to the Division of Geography, and the work of the Division staff and Advisory Committee
was redefined. To expedite work, the
Secretary delegated to Dr. Burrill the authority to approve all domestic names
conforming to existing procedures, and all foreign names
either derived by approved or unapproved procedures. The Division took on
the responsibility of establishing major rules
and policies for the treatment of both domestic and
foreign names, investigating and recommending action
on names issues, while the Advisory Committee simply
reviewed principles, policies, and name recommendations prior
to approval by the Secretary. A special Committee on
Antarctic names was established that also became the
Advisory Committee in 1947. The BGN became a clearing house
for names, producing indexes for European invasion maps,
gazetteers, and the transcription of some 3 million Chinese,
Japanese, and Korean names. This is an example of a
long-range air navigation chart which is a typical
product that was produced by the BGN during that period. The Army would submit a
blue-line proof of the map, and the BGN would prepare what
they called a names overlay. All of these black areas are
names that they’ve gone in and applied by hand in ink. Once they applied the names overlay,
they would return this to the Army for application and
final production. The war ended in 1945, but standardizing foreign
names was only beginning. The BGN would continue work on a reimbursable basis
producing gazetteers and other names requirements
for the military and intelligence programs
for years to come. However, Cold War funding
for foreign names that ranged from about 200,000 in
1946 to a high of 580,000 in 1965 became a two-edge
sword for the BGN. In 1945 the Chairman of the House
Committee on Appropriations stated that all agencies of the
government that lacked authority for lawful appropriations
must seek legislation. The BGN took action and on July 25, 1947 President Harry Truman signed
a bill establishing the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Conjointly with the Secretary of
Interior, the BGN would “provide for uniformity and
geographic nomenclature and orthography throughout
the Federal Government” and would be authorized to
be appropriated such funds as may be necessary to carry
out the purposes of this Act. Additionally, the Act authorized
the Secretary to take action in any matter wherein the Board does
not act within a reasonable time. This has been mentioned before,
but we saw earlier in August or late August that the
Secretary exercised that authority when she changed the name
from Mount McKinley to Denali. In my opinion, I think this
is the only time a Secretary of Interior has exercised
this authority. The BGN’s first meeting under
statuatory authority was spent on organizational matters including
the establishment of committees, election of officers, and the
appointment of Dr. Burrill as the BGN Executive Secretary. However, gaining statuatory
authority did not have the results the BGN sought. Between 1947 and 1950,
the Division continued to receive small direct
appropriations for the work of the BGN, but efforts
to seek additional funds for domestic names
activities was hindered by the large sums available
for foreign names. In the early 1950s, concern grew
among the Domestic Names Committee members over the lack of adequate
funds to address its backlog. Some agencies no longer submitted
cases for staff processing. Several Interior management
reports published between 1952 and 1955 indicated that the work
of the domestic names was in chaos because no funds were
available for needed work. The reports recommended options such as transferring the
domestic names activities to the Geological Survey,
divesting the Department of the work on foreign gazetteers, and transferring the
foreign names functions to another appropriate agency. No action was taken until 1958
when the domestic names activities, including several staff
members, were transferred to the Geological Survey,
and an Executive Secretary for Domestic Names,
Jerome Kilmartin, was appointed by the
Survey to head the program. Dr. Burrill remained the Secretary
for Foreign Names and the BGN. It took until 1962 for
the domestic names staff to clear the decisions
of its backlog. In 1959, Donald Orth joined
the Domestic Names staff. He was appointed the Executive
Secretary for Domestic Names in 1963 and was a formidable leader of
the program, expanding its work and guiding it into the digital
age until his retirement in 1991. Roger Payne succeeded him as the Executive Secretary
for Domestic Names. Another 10 years elapsed before the
Foreign Names staff functions were transferred from Interior
to the Department of Defense Army Map Service. During that period, the BGN
became actively involved in international standardization
efforts. In 1956, at the request of the U.N., Dr. Burrill drafted a proposed
program addressing international standardization of geographic names. His work was instrumental
in the U.N.’s development of its current program and he
continued to play a role even after his retirement in 1973. Upon his retirement, Dr.
Richard Randall was appointed as the Executive Secretary
for Foreign Names and the BGN. He was the steward of foreign names
and an admirable leader of the work of the BGN for the next 20 years. With the transfer of the
Foreign Names activities in 1968, the foundation for the
modern day BGN had been laid. The evolution of the U.S. Board
on Geographic Names has progressed from Theodore Roosevelt’s Geographic
Board through increased interaction with state and international
naming authorities to massive support of
World War II efforts. It’s been established,
reorganized, abolished, absorbed, and reestablished. Its focus has changed
from dealing only with unsettled questions
concerning geographic names to rendering thousands of decisions that span the Earth,
Sea, and Antarctic. It now deals with 50 states, 195
countries, and dozens of languages. The BGN has adapted to
vast technological changes with 2.7 million domestic names and 9.8 million foreign names online
available at a few keystrokes. It has indeed been a
journey down a long, winding, and sometimes weary road. In closing, I congratulate the
U.S. Board in Geographic Name, its members and staff,
both past and present, on 125 years of providing
outstanding national and international leadership
and the standardization of geographic nomenclature. Thank you. [ Applause ] It’s gone now.>>Here we go. Dave.>>Do we have any questions? It’s been an interesting
history and thank you so much for sharing a long-time
[inaudible] but. Well, we do have a question. Yes. Please stand. Thank you.>>With the recent surge for
deleting Denali and other — [ Inaudible Speaker ] — do you see the movement where the
Board’s facing the next 125 years of renaming what was named
in the past 125 as well as continuing on [inaudible]?>>Sandra Shaw: Well,
that’s a good –>>Repeat the question.>>Sandra Shaw: She wanted to know
if the names that have been approved in the last 125 years,
if we’re faced with renaming some of the names. Is that correct?>>Yeah.>>Sandra Shaw: Yes. Well, I think this question
was sort of asked earlier also. I’m not quite sure about
how many renamings. I think that with — of course, on the foreign names side you
will always have issues that — with countries changing of —
with the Soviet Union like right when it broke up, many
of the other countries that were becoming independent,
you would have naming changes. In many instances governments
themselves will change a name and require, say, the Department
of State to use a name approved. Such one issue was with the
Ivory Coast many years ago. The Ivory Coast insisted for diplomatic purposes
we use Cote d’Ivoire, the French form, which we did. However, we did approve
a conventional form for U.S. Government mapping. On the domestic name side,
it’s a little more emotional. When I was Chair of the Board, it
was interesting because I worked on only foreign names and, of
course, we had always had issues with countries that wanted
us to do certain things. Usually, if we had established
diplomatic relations with them, we would accept what
they wanted us to do. But at the encouragement
of Don Orth, he got me involved
in domestic names. I was not aware of the
emotions that were involved in naming domestic features. It’s really a different issue
on both sides of the house. But I can’t see us going in and
renaming masses of names that — that’s all I can say
on that I guess. It’s [laughter].>>Thank you. Do we have any other questions?>>Douglas Caldwell: Good. At this time, what
we’d like to do is — you’ve heard the names of
several people mentioned. These people — the
Board is many things. It represents the Federal
Government. It represents different agencies. But it’s really the people
behind it who make it work. Now I’d like to take a few
minutes to introduce you to some of those people, particularly
our distinguished leaders. You’ve heard the name Don Orth
mentioned several times today. Don, could you raise your hand? Okay. [ Applause ] So Don has worked with
Geographic Names at the U.S. Geological
Survey starting in 1959, and he was the Executive Secretary for Domestic Names
from 1973 to 1990. The Executive Secretaries are
our senior staff positions. He consolidated the working policies
of the Domestic Names Committee into the principles, policies,
and procedures that we use today. He signed the Transboundary
Agreement with Canada, and he directed the production
of a number of gazetteers. As if he wasn’t busy enough, he also
authored a very interesting history of the BGN and its evolution, some of the things
that we’ve heard about. One of his best-known
publications,The Dictionaryof Alaska Place Names
was published in 1971. It’s known by many
people simply as “Orth.” It has been referred to as the Bible
for Geographic Names in Alaska. I have heard it said that there are
people in Alaska who have two books, the Bible and Orth [laughter]. The next person I’d like to
acknowledge is Mr. Roger Payne. Roger, could you stand up. [ Applause ] Roger worked at the
U.S. Geological Survey with Geographic Names
from 1974 to 2006. He served as the Executive Secretary
for Domestic Names from 1990 to 2006, and the Executive Secretary
of the entire BGN from 1993 to 2006. As if Roger couldn’t get enough,
he currently serves as Secretary for the Advisory Committee
on Undersea Feature Names, even though he’s retired —
Antarctic names, sorry, sorry. Got that wrong. Roger — sorry about that. Roger is the father of the
Geographic Names Information System or GNIS which led the BGN from the
age of print to its digital future. The GNIS remains today the
separate repository for information about approved domestic
and Antarctic names. In addition, Roger’s been a leader in the geographic names
community for many years. Among his positions, he
was formerly the President of the American Names
Society, the Vice-Chairman of the Place Name Survey of the
United States, and the author of a section on applied
[inaudible] in theHistoryof Cartography, Volume Six. Okay. At this point, I’d like to
also acknowledge Mr. Randy Flynn who was unable to be with us
today, and Dr. Dick Randall, who passed away earlier this year. There’s a little mention
of him in the brochure with his many accomplishments. So those are some of
our senior leaders, and we’ve been very
fortunate to have such wise and knowledgeable people
leading the Board. At this time, I’d like to introduce
some of our current leadership, and these are pretty amazing people, and they’re a lot of
fun to work with. The first is Mr. Tony
Gilbert, can you stand, from our Government
Publishing Office [applause]. He’s the Vice Chair
of the full Board. I think as we go through
these, you’ll get a flavor for the interagency
aspects of the Board. Mr. Lou Yost from the U.S.
Geological Survey is our Executive Secretary for Domestic Names. [ Applause ] You’ll often see Lou quoted
in the newspaper [laughter]. Mr. Marcus Alsop from the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is our Acting Executive
Secretary for Foreign Names. [ Applause ] He’s filling in for Mr. Trent
Palmer who is currently detailed to the Department of
State [inaudible]. [ Applause ] Mr. Doug Van der Graaf
from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
is the Chair of the Domestic Names Committee. [ Applause ] Mr. Leo Dillon from the
Department of State is the Chair of our Foreign Names Committee. [ Applause ] Dr. Scott Board, who I don’t
believe is with us today, from the National Science
Foundation, is the Chair of the Advisory
Committee on Antarctic Names. [ Applause ] Roger, as we mentioned, and I
mis-mentioned, is the Secretary of the Advisory Committee
on Antarctic Names. [ Applause ] Mr. Jerry Walters, from the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is the Chair of the Advisory
Committee on Undersea Feature Names. [ Applause ] Mr. Jimmy Nurantes
[assumed spelling] from the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is the Secretary of the Advisory
Committee on Undersea Feature Names. [ Applause ] I have to say, the Advisory
Committees are somewhat unique. So we have our Standing Committees
which are domestic and foreign, and all of the people who serve
on those are Federal employees. The Antarctic Names and Undersea
Feature Names are somewhat unique in that they are names
for features on areas for which the U.S. Government
doesn’t recognize a sovereign leader, and there are areas where
there’s no permanent population. So they have a lot of
unique characteristics. And so they — they do an excellent
job on these things because it’s — it’s quite complicated with
all the players involved and all the work that
remains to be done. So it’s — it’s a great
pleasure to have them and if you have any questions,
just give them a chat. Our final person is Miss
Meredith Westington, who also couldn’t be here and —
and she is actually the organizer of this event and the person
who made everything possible. She’s done a wonderful job keeping
a lot of moving parts together. She works for the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration. She’s a wonderful person, the chair of the Special Communications
Committee and she’s currently in Colorado — [ Applause ] So — so those are some
of our leaders and they’re like the cabinet, that —
that makes things run and — and they — they’re a great cabinet. But the BGN could not operate
without its members and staff. The members are the ones who actually make the
decisions and develop policy. So this time I’d like to ask the
current BGN members to stand, if you’re a current BGN member. [ Applause ] Do we have some former
BGN members here? Yeah — [ Applause ] And — and naming is kind of
a funny thing because you — you can’t go to college and
get a degree in toponymy. It’s something that you
learn through experience, and often years of experience. You have to understand what’s
gone on before and some of these things don’t
happen every day. And so, institutional knowledge
is very important to the BGN. Now our staff, we have an
incredible staff, not a lot of them, but they’re incredible people. And they maintain our databases,
they interact with the public. When you call the BGN,
you’re probably going to be talking with one of them. And they do the research that’s
the foundation of all of our work. So would our — our current
BGN staff members both from NGA and the U.S. Geological
Survey, please stand? [ Applause ] And do we have any former
staff with us today? They’re all working, so. And finally, the BGN works closely and this is a really
important thing, so the — the names that we work on and
the decisions that are made apply to the federal government, but we work in certainly
a broader environment. And so we have international
partners, state partners, local partners, and tribal
partners who work with us as well. And so if anyone here today is
from one of these authorities, please stand up and let’s
acknowledge your work. Anyone here? [ Applause ] So, I — again I’d like to thank
again, all of the members and staff. It’s incredibly — they work
very hard every day making sure that we have the best
quality of work on our names. So now this morning, we were
focusing particularly on the history of the BGN and the history
of our geographic names. This afternoon we’re going to pivot, the theme of the day is
traditions and transitions. So now we’re going
to the transitions. And we’re going to be
looking at some of the things that are facing the
BGN in the future in our world of geographic names. Our next speaker, who
it’s a pleasure to introduce, is Dr. Luis Bermudez. He is the executive director of the Open Geospatial Consortiums
Compliance and E-Learning Program. He’s an adjunct professor at the
Master of Professional Studies in Geographic Information
System at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Now Dr. Bermudez is in
a very special position. He’s not one who worries so much
about the problems of today. He’s looking at the
solutions of tomorrow. He’s sort of one generation
and one step ahead, and so he brings a very
interesting perspective. He not only thinks about the
future of geographic names, but has been involved in several
experiments looking at technology and concepts that will bring our
geographic names to the next level. So, Luis. [ Applause ] Oh, sorry.>>Luis Bermudez: Okay. So, good afternoon
everybody and thank you, Doug, very much for this kind invitation. It’s really a pleasure to be here. When I was listening to
the previous speakers about how sentiment is too
— is put when you place — when you put names into places
and how the first one that says, this is how I publish what name
belongs to what geographic feature. I thought about a good example. So this was about seven
years ago and my daughter was about to get born, my third
child, and then we’re thinking about what’s the best
name — Natalia or Sandra? Perfect in English
and Spanish, right. And then my son came,
he was six years, and he wrote Isabella
[inaudible], and put it in the crib. And boom! He publicly
published the name [laughter]. He won. So, I really appreciate
all the work that the board and staff does because it’s really
heroic in how you solve conflicts of putting names and resolving
conflict names between even borders. So, congratulations and — and
thank you very much for your work. So, I — I broke up the content of this presentation,
it’s in four parts. First, to talk about the
maps and name of places, but I’m going to show
previous examples of some of the previous speakers before. But now I have the technology lens, so I’m putting this
in another context. Then I’m going to talk about two
problems, basically name and search, next the third revolution and
finally, to infinity and beyond. So, most of you are
familiar with this, right. This is a very early map. The humans at that point wanted
to draw things in caverns. This was when agriculture
started to take place, so the humans had more time to paint
their surroundings before they were painting animals and so forth. You see have no names. Now, Ptolemy as some of
you also mentioned before. He was an Egyptian geek. Now come one, Greco-Egyptian
[inaudible] sometimes. But he had a list of names
with latitude and longitude. Now so you can imagine
first the humans were trying to draw their environment
and how they were placed. And then, this guy was able to put
a list of names with coordinates. You can imagine what comes next,
which is a map with names, right. This is one of the first
maps created by Martin. So, historically this is how
I think from my perspective, this is how we have sort of moved
from drawings to list of names and then to maps that have names
associated with those places. Now two problems that — that I’ve
been able to — to distinguish. So if you see this map, this is
Tennessee, but is not spelled as we usually encounter Tennessee,
which I don’t know even how to spell, but I know — I know
this is not the correct spelling. [ Laughter ] So, solving these problems is very
tough because sometimes one thing — one geographic feature can
have different representations, even in the same language, right. And we have all seen a lot of
different examples related to that. And that’s why one of the
first works here in the U.S. and we have all seen these work on
Alaska, was trying to standardize on a place of names, a dictionary
where everybody can look and say, “Okay, this is the standard
name, this is the approve d name and I’m going to use it.” I’m not going to talk
more about the history because this has been talked before. Now, so that’s one problem, right. [Inaudible] geographic feature
with different representations. Now we have a second problem. Where is Ontario? Who knows? [ Inaudible Speakers ] So — somebody? Huh? [ Inaudible Speakers ] One in California, where else?>>One in Canada [inaudible].>>Luis Bermudez: One
in Canada, yeah. So, Ontario is there, right. It’s like east of Pomona,
north of Chino. All — everybody agrees? That’s Ontario. No. As we know, Ontario is
also a province in Canada. So, we can have one
name, now in this case, representing different features. So, that’s the second
problem, right. And all these problems
are called [inaudible]. And we have now virus technologies that are able to solve
these problem. Now I’ve been lucky
enough that I was involved in previous works about semantics. I was at Drexel University
and we’re trying to do hydrologic interoperability
[phonetic] in terms of how do we call observatories,
water sheds and so forth. And we were the first
ones to publish ontologies and semantic works on hydrology. So then when I came to you — to OGC, I was able to lead some
cross [inaudible] and that’s where I met Doug and at the end, I’m
going to present some of the work that we have advanced
related to — to that. But these are the two
typical problems when we talk about semantic heterogeneity. Now, more interesting is when we
want to please a hungry fisherman. So, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning, this guy just parked
somewhere in a hotel. All he’s fishing poles
are in the car. He’s hungry. What is the nearest lake from my current location
that I can go fishing? It’s not an easy question
to — to respond right now. If somebody can point
me to a map that says — I don’t know, insta-fishing map
buddy or something like that. I don’t think it exists. Because it requires to cross
link a lot of information. Not only where are the lakes that
hopefully we can solve, right, with proper names, but we also
need to know if fishing is allowed, if the fish that I want is there,
if it is open when I want to go, if there is any closing, you know, all these related information
is hard. So keep that in mind. This is what I call the problem
of the hungry casual fisherman. So, over these years, we have
evolved various techniques. I’m going to see how
much on time, good. We have evolved through virus
techniques and first is, I’m going to show techniques on how
we have agreed on geographic names. And second, how we have make those
names accessible to the public. And in particular made only
accessible to a web interface, right, but accessible to
the developer that wants to create this app insta-fishing
buddy gram or whatever [laughter]. So, agreement via controlled
vocabularies or for those of you that are familiar with semantic
techniques and the different levels of controlled vocabularies,
every community and every endeavor
starts with list of terms. And that’s how we saw
Ptolemy, right. He created the list of terms. And then those evolved
into dictionaries. I’m going to show more
examples and at the end, we can capture these
tables and relations. When an organization decision
starts with these process of, oh, now we need to create
controlled vocabularies because there is an executive
order or somebody says, “Yeah, because it’s cool,” or because
open link data, all of those — the first thing is its
create a list of terms. Then define those list of terms and
then create tables and relations. So you have seen these, it’s
bulletin one published by the board. And here we see a list of decisions
which basically provide categories, right, list of countries, for
example, list of foreign countries, the U.S. and basically it
has a list of names, right. This was the first part. Then we have good example, this was
the first official stat e gazetteer, the Gazetteer of Rhode Island. Where we see a lot of elements of
dictionary style and thank you doc for providing a lot
of very useful slides. So you will see elements,
for example, like the name, like the class or type, where’s the
location and where is it located. So all those different components
form part of a structured definition and then we can easily capture
in the tables and relation. But this is like the second part. And then, this is an example
of gazetteer maps of Thailand, now this is 1944 and then we
see a table representation. So you see the name, you see the
type which is the second column, you see even a link to a map. So we have the map
reference that you’re able to locate the information in
that table and the information on the map, and then
latitude and longitude. So 1944, this was represented
as tables. So I’m talking about the
techniques, remember. Now something happened — since
I’m going to talk about technology, I need to also tell a
little bit about this — something happened
between 1960 and 2000. Internet/web revolution
and the digital revolution, this is what we call
the third revolution. What was the first revolution?>>Agriculture.>>Luis Bermudez: Thank you. And the second one? [ Inaudible Speaker ] You guys are super
awesome, thank you. So in 1947, something
incredible happened. We were able to get ones and zeros
[inaudible] from electrical signals. And that allow us to do what? Create computers and more
interesting, to be able then to transfer information
across computers and across servers,
across the world. And this is when Internet
was born, 1969. University of California,
Stanford, they were able to share some information doing
a link called ARPANET link — 1969 — 2230. And then between the 70’s and 80’s,
also something interesting happened and it’s that we were able to
create systems that were able to store information and
retrieve information easier. Before relational databases,
we had graphs. And then if we wanted to search
information, want to go from — I don’t know — we have a customer
and a customer had invoices, invoice one, invoice two, we
had to traverse invoice one, invoice two until we
get to the last invoice. We were trying to search something
in invoice 40 and we wanted to search how many products
did we want — we want — had to search every
graph for every invoice. It was crazy. So they came from these relational
databases were born, that allows you to capture tables, link tables
and be able to be more efficient in the store of information. In 1993, you know, almost three
years after the Internet was born, we have one of the first
popular browsers, Mosaic. And this allowed people
to search the web, right, so we’re not only talking about
links about University of California at Stanford, but in a simple
interface, we’re able to click and access servers around the world. This was incredible. This was an eye opener
for a lot of people. Knowledge became widespread and
not only knowledge, but maps. So in 1996, MapQuest was created. Four years after MapQuest
was created, AOL — you remember some of you, AOL, okay. One — but MapQuest for 1.1 billion. So this is how crazy it was mapping
in the mapping industry on the web, bringing that information that
previously was hard, right. We used to use printed maps to
travel — I used to, you know, I look young and —
but I still use those. And then came the fourth revolution. No, no, came OGC. So, it was created in 1994, right at
that point was eight members mostly. Government from the OpenGIS project
and we wanted to create interfaces, web interfaces to share
geospatial data. So in 1997, the first open
geospatial consortium, OGC standard — that’s
where I work, right, created the first specification, which is Simple Features
Specification. How do we store data in
that geospatial database? That was the first time [inaudible]. Why? Because spatial databases
were popular at that time. So this is the first
standard, right. So Oracles, you know, all
those companies got certified and they were able to properly
put geographic information in their base. There were certain queries
that you were able to do it. And today, most geospatial
databases support simple features. Then in 2000, came another
interesting standard. So, what’s the next step? Oh, well, the next step is
to publish maps on the web. Cool. So, what would you like to do? Well, can we have common links,
common URL’s that we type in a browser and get maps? And let the server
do all the crunching, meaning that if we want a map 400
by 600 in JPEG, with certain styles, that the service do all
— does all the crunching and I just get an image that
I can reuse in the website that I can then put with
another image on top. So that is what double UMS is about. Very popular, is — is the most
popular OGC standard, I think. All governments around
the world have implemented when they are started to implement or recall spatial data
infrastructures, that’s — maybe the first thing is
the inventory catalogs, but the second thing
is publishing maps. And then in 2002 was the question
of, okay, now we can publish maps, can we publish vector
data on the web? So only the images,
but can we ask for — give me all the polygons
that represent the U.S. or give me all the roads and
that is web features service that came in 2002. Now, so you see this is 1997,
2002, so maps crazy now — 2004, more people use
maps online than e-mail. And in 2007, we knew
what happened, right. We ready now to have
digital maps in our pocket, thanks to — to — to Steve. And okay, now when back a little
bit of what USGS has done. This is one of the first
screenshots — I think so. Geographic Names Information
Systems where you’re able to search some places
via a user interface. So this was in 2002, maybe I got
it wrong, but this was the — the best information I got from
Geographic Names Information System. So this was quite advanced
at that moment, right, 2002 was about 12 years ago. And then — so there
was a web interface, but what about then
for the developers? Is there a web service? Is there somehow, I can
access that information and do my cool app
insta-fisherman buddy helper? So in 2008, the first
web service appeared, this was an XML based service. They can also — were
able to get elevation from the National Elevation Dataset. But in 2008, you guys also
published the OGC Web Map Service, so you were able to get that information via a
standard OGC service. And in 2010, via Web
Feature Service. And there is a prototype, which is
WFS-G, which is Web Feature Service for Gazetteers, which is very
special functions that I’m going to talk at the end that provides
better search capabilities, better interface capabilities that go beyond this
[inaudible] vector data. Okay. So now to infinity
and beyond, right. So, we talk about — so we started
from maps, then list of names. We were able to put names on a
map, technology advance, right, digital revolution where we’re
able to create computers, Internet, put maps on the web and
create web services. So we are now at this point,
a position that I can go to a web service and I can get the
vector data that I want, right. And maybe it has proper names,
maybe it has some attributes, not all of them, but attributes
likes what type is it, right. Where is it contained,
a little definition. So, what’s next? So I have four topics here. One is advanced location
representation, advanced semantics,
linking and search. Now, where is Russia? Yeah, in California,
west of Chico, right. No, usually what we do with names or
in — in the previous years, well, Russia is here and how it was this
place and how I got the information, was sort of a dot on the map that represented maybe
the center of the polygon. But now we can have advanced
representations, right, so it’s not only a point, but
now we have better vector data, better web services, better
databases that allow us to not only link names with points,
but also sometimes bounding box, that are very useful for
searching, for linear rings, polygons and multi-polygons. And all those vector types or presentations are all also
standardized as part of OGC. So we can better answer the
question of, where is Russia, but saying Russia is here,
all these polygons, right. It’s much better than
saying, it’s this point because I can somehow use the
data for other purposes, right. Containment, I can
calculate the area, I can link with other
information that I can somehow find that it’s inside Russia
and — and — and so on. Now, this is also related
to somebody that — that asked a question in the
— in the morning session. So, how do we solve the
problems of these category types, right, but it’s a Summit. It can be maybe all of these or
part of these, or related to these. How — how do we do it? Well, there is a formal
way to do it. We have the technology right now, so the worldwide web
consortium — this is W3C, right. They are doing a lot of web — a
lot of work on the next web, right, because they already did all
the work on the web HTTP, that’s how we publish
information on the web. But their moving towards something
called the semantic web that says, “Well, if we can describe
things that we put in the web with a correct name and you can
provide a correct unique identifier for that name. Then we can start playing
and linking all those types and instances, and all the data
and build these rich semantic web that we can infer more stuff. And maybe solve the problem for
the hungry late fisherman,” right. So, and this is very,
very small example of maybe what ontology
would look like. You can see, for example,
that we have volcano and volcano we can say
is a type of a mountain. Mountain is a type
of natural elevation, that is a geological formation
and mountain has a mountain peak, which is a type of peak and
some it is a peak, right. So we have somehow
information that says, you know, this Summit something, something and
has the name of the mountain like, for example, Denali has
two significant Summits. The south Summit is higher
than da, da, da, da, da, da. Then if we have the type
of information and we have, for example, like machine —
machine learning algorithms are able to construct from text or
from queries, use ontology. Then you’re able to
infer more stuff. If you have proper names, proper
categories, then you are able to query, get back the information
and provide information useful to the end user, like
again, the fisherman. So now there is another problem,
right, we have a lot of — now I had all my notes here, I have
not been able to read one — okay. So we had — we have a
lot of different ways to divide our geographic, right, can
be counties, it can be by watershed, and we somehow need to
share that information. If I’m interested in what
lake is inside this watershed, it’s a different question from, what
lake is inside this county, right? Watersheds come across counties
and [inaudible] and so forth. So having the boundaries is not
enough, but having information of how do we calculate, for
example, these in real time because we are able to properly
save the watershed polygon and the county polygons, and then
calculate what is inside what. That is very powerful. And right now we’re able to do that. The — the keynote presenter
talk about — and if — I think this was his
second slide or so, about the importance
of unique identifiers. And some of the experiments
that we do at OGC, so again, open this special consortium, which
you know, we’re about 500 members. We publish standards, but one of
the cool activities that we do is, can we prototype some
technology and solve problems? So sponsors, like USGS and GAFAA and
so forth, they come and say, “Hey, OGC, we have these problem and
want to be able, for example, in this case, to be able to search
NGA, but using USGS names or be able to link with these other
type of information. Can you do some prototype and then
we can create [inaudible] practice, publish a report, improve
the standards?” And we say, “Yes.” And that’s part of the
[inaudible] Program Activities. And so we invite other
members to participate, these are very fast
activities, like six months. A lot of participants around
the world, we interact — I think Doug, we had
a lot of fun time. I had a lot of fun time. But it’s — it’s very cool because
we’re able to really move technology in the future and I — and get some
things, you know, software running and — and then we can publish
our report for others to look and improve their systems. So in this case, we had [inaudible]
National Geospatial Agency data, now we had USGS data. And we had also Dbpedia, right. And we wanted to be
able to link these three and if we have one user
interface that search one name, can we also get the information
from the other sources, so that — that way we get a more
comprehensive set of information? The first thing we need to do, unique identifiers
for all those folks. We have unique identifiers, then
we can use the power of ontologies to do explicit representations
of types, attributes and then we’re able to
do powerful searches. So, for example, we’re able
to get this information, which I think is not part of
— of what you guys published. Like, for example, rain
days average in a year or the population metro
density and other information that can be accessed somewhere. So again, going back to
the fisherman exercise, if we’re able to link with a
database that provides information about lakes, if they are close, not
close, what type of fish, etcetera, we were able then to create
this for the fisherman. We were able also to play
with advanced searches, right. And we had the scenario where, what
if there is an event in the border of Mexico and U.S. and
something happened in Rincon, but you didn’t know
how to spell Rincon? If you know Spanish, sometimes you
need to open [foreign speaking], but if you don’t speak
Spanish so well you say Rincon. And then you don’t know how to — how to write it sometime
[inaudible] whatever. So you can write it with different
ways, but can we even search that way, and we call
it Fuzzy Match. And not only [inaudible] —
in a web interface where we — we can put, you know, all the — all the code, but can we
put it via web services? So we’re able to improve the
web services for gazetteers and provide these in —
in a service interface. Also, the nearest neighbor, right
— again fisherman, nearest lake and the best coffee around, best
espresso around, organic, whatever. How can I do this in
a programmatic way so we interact with web services? So we also advance these
searches via web services and also using the ontologies and
the categorizations that we have for Summit and the radius. Can we search for all Summit
types in this 20 kilometer radius? So we’re able to play with
ontologies and find names that have, for example, mountain, hills,
peaks because they were related. And beyond, so there are a lot, a
lot, a lot, a lot of sources around. There is a trend that if you didn’t
know you need to be aware of, but this is called linked data,
which allows you, organizations, agencies, everybody to publish
this information on the web and to link it and to
provide more information that the current source
and improve it. So then you query all
this information and get very interesting
answers like, the lake example and the fisherman example. So link data and I think that’s all. Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell:
That just sort of took us out of our own little world
of geographic names and put us in the larger context
of other information and how we can be a big player in the information ecosystem
rather than just more broken. Is there any questions? [Inaudible] so what
— what are you think in your experiments was
the most interesting and unexpected find that you had? So you — you knew about
the data and things, what was the biggest surprise
in — in working through this?>>Luis Bermudez: So — so the
biggest surprise is when we said, “Yeah, we have the technology, yeah, we [inaudible] with
ontology search.” Then the services, the data of the
services didn’t have a unique URI. That was the biggest problem. So we published data and
agencies, organizations — yeah, of course, it’s not —
they had priority, nobody said, “You need to publish those names
with unique identifiers on the web.” But that was one of the big issues. And then, what if we
have multiple services that are serving the same
name or the same feature? How do you deal with that? Yeah, okay, if you
have unique identifiers and we can find ontology, this
is — this is the same as. But the — the main problem is
unique identifiers on the web for everything, for
digigraphic features, for the types so we can do a
nice categorization of them.>>Douglas Caldwell: And I — I think one of the most interesting
things to me in that experiment was, we were able to take a gazetteer
ID from NGA, for a feature, and we did Saint John in Canada. And within a couple links, we
had the mayor of Saint John, we had the picture of the mayor, we
knew what his occupation was and all of these things, just starting
with that one ID from NGA. And that I think is in this link
data, that’s the power of this. There actually are — there are
billions of pieces of information out there just waiting
to be tied to our names. And — and this is one of the
things I think that we’re going to look forward to in the future. Question, yes?>>I’m curious if you yourself or
[inaudible] has gotten into the — the moral standards
[inaudible] aspects. You have places that have previous
names and it’s all the same place.>>Douglas Caldwell: Can
you repeat the question?>>Is there a standard
or — or [inaudible].>>Luis Bermudez: So if
OGC has a standard to –>>Douglas Caldwell:
Repeat the question.>>Luis Bermudez: — yes,
the question — question. If OGC has a standard to deal
with how the names changes and — and temporal names, right. Yes. So we are dealing
with two things there. One is provenance, so we have done
a lot of work in provenance activity and in particular, reusing the
word, the W3C again, is done — is doing it’s called
[inaudible] something like that. But they have a model
for provenance. And second, GML 3.2
provides temporality, so you can attach to features time. Aviation uses this a lot
because they want to know when an airport is
closed and when it’s going to be open, when an event occurs. So in aviation, AXM is the GML
profile, they use time a lot. Yeah.>>Douglas Caldwell:
Any other questions? Thank you.>>Luis Bermudez: Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: Okay, our next
speaker is going to be David Stage, who was formerly the
state GIS coordinator for the state of Florida. And the eastern cadastral
coordinator for the Federal Geographic
Data Committee — or FGDC. As the state GIS coordinator, Mr.
Stage had a view of names outside of BGN federal activities. So he was able to see
them, and work with them, and use them as someone not in the federal government,
but as someone outside. He understands how outside
government organizations work with the BGN and geographic names. And today he’s going to
talk about the connection between two really
seemingly incompatible things. On the one hand, we have
our authoritative names, which obviously can only be
approved by an authority, in this case, the federal
government. But we also have this world of
crowd sourcing, which is emerging. And in the crowd sourcing world, we’re tapping into a huge
labor pool of volunteers. And he’s going to talk a
little bit more about that. Thank you. David? [ Applause ]>>David Stage: Okay, great. Okay, I’m David Stage. My presentation here obviously
is on authoritative data and crowd sourcing or how can
volunteers provide authoritative data to BGN? This is based on my own
experience working at the state and local governments, as well — not only governments,
but associations. I’ve worked with the
National State’s Geographic Information Council. I’ve also had discussions
with the National Map Corps, that’s part of the USGS. And I talked with Elizabeth
McCartney and Erin Course, who were very valuable and who
cannot be blamed for anything that I’m saying [laughter]. Okay, I’ve looked into the
research on crowd sourcing and — and I use the terms
crowd sourcing and VGI or volunteer geographic
information interchangeably often. There — there are differences. And on the last slide,
I have references that if you are interested in — in this whole business
of crowd sourcing, that you should take a look at. So this is a new area. I’d like to note two things that,
one is this is a governance issue. And I’ve made things a lot
simpler than they really are. So, with that — let’s see
if I got my things right. Down. Thank you very much. Authoritative data and BGN’s
business requirements — so, as a — it’s an — a BGN or USGS,
is an authoritative source, it’s an organization that has a
legislative mandate or just learned, an executive order and
budget to create data to meet specific business needs. In short, what those things are,
our place stands for the USGS quads, provide an official
process to create and maintain official place names,
maintain the currency of that data and [inaudible] place name history
— provide a place name history. Now this next slide is the
National Map Corps website. This is the door for crowd-sourced
data to become authoritative data. It’s a very interesting website. You go home, register today
and you can get to work. There are a number of
crowd sourcing efforts that have taken place
or are taking place. Probably over the past 10 years,
it’s starting to build momentum. There’s a — some couple
of interesting references, there was one to the World Bank
that’s crowd-sourced geographic information for governments where
over 30 case studies were looked at or published, both from
governments and the private sector. This is a really good one. The one that was given to the —
the United Nations 10th Conference on Geographic Names, Laura
Kotanski, a crowd source and geographic information
for government gazetteers where she interviewed 20
public/private entities. And I’ll be getting
back to her later on. And she talked about —
well, I’ll be getting to it. And then BGN’s National
Map Corp. Okay, now to be a little
[inaudible] here and come up — and look at some terms. I’ve broken things
out into two spheres. There’s the authoritative
data sphere and there’s a volunteer
geographic information sphere. So I’m going to kind of
go through some terms, so there’s some common definitions. First, authority and we
use this all the time. And it is — my understanding of
it is it’s the legal responsibility by a public agency to conduct
business for the public good. That’s what authority is. We have an authoritative
data source. It has legal authority that’s
really important to collect data for specific business purposes. And BGN and their staff constantly
remind me of what they are supposed to do and things that they’re
not supposed to necessarily do. Okay, authoritative data is
officially recognized data that comes from the
authoritative source. There are data stewards, this
is the entity within that source that has a responsibility
for collecting data. That’s often confused with
the authoritative data source. And then you’ve got certified
data and uncertified data. Certified data is data that’s been
vetted by an authoritative source and has legal standing,
that’s really important. The name has legal standing for
— between federal agencies, not necessarily the state
governments or anybody else, but it does have legal
standing for — between federal agencies,
the place name. There’s uncertified data, which
you kind of think of is either data that hasn’t been quite
vetted yet, has — hasn’t been anointed or its supporting data
for those place names. Okay, the volunteer data
sphere has two types of — I kind of use the notion
of friendship because that’s what you’re dealing with when you’re working
with volunteers. There’s two types of data sources,
I call them strangers of the night and friendships of utility. There is shadow sources,
we used to — we used this in partial data
all the time and we were talking at lunch how it comes
— how people are — take government data and
then provide it to you, and then you have no idea
where this came from. You have no idea the
currency of the data. We call that the sources, the shadow
source, the data is shadow data because you really don’t
know what that data is. There’s no way to confirm it. Whereas, your friends
are trusted sources. This is an entity whose
trust has been earned. Please note that. Trusted data is data from outside
the authorized process whose limitations, currency and attributes
can be known and verified. Okay, now in the volunteer sphere, I have identified three
types of volunteers. There’s the Type I and II. These have infrastructure. The Type III are the true
volunteers, when you think about it, and these have no infrastructure. The Type I, these are
intergovernmental cooperatives. There might be something signed
where you have some people with an organization, they’re
working with other people and other organizations to kind
of help pull things together. You have Type II or
indirect management support where an entity — or where
your boss just tells you, “Well, it’d be nice if you could find time
to work on this, but you’ve got to get your other stuff done first,” and there’s no task
involved with that. The Type III are individuals that
are outside of the infrastructure and their participation
is altruistic. One of the big difference
between the Type I and II and the Type III is that Type I and
Type II have a paycheck coming in and the other folks don’t. It’s a big deal. So this is a — the next
slide shows what it’s like. We have some sort of
legislative authority or executive authority that’s
provided to an authoritative source. In this case I would
say it’s the USGS. The data steward is BGN. And then you have GNIS, the
Geographic Names Information System, is a processing system that goes
into the authoritative data bucket. The GNIS database. And out comes the authoritative
data. Now the VGI, the volunteer sphere, what you have over on
the other side is — oh, I need to mention
the one on the bottom. You have shadow sources and see that
verboten symbol down at the bottom. Okay, now what — doesn’t
happen very often and it’s not very efficient is when
somebody comes from the outside and just out of the blue they
provide you with something and say, “Well, here, what about this one?” That’s not where the majority
of the information comes from. What happens is always — I mean I’ve looked at some
of the research that’s done, and they may not like talk about
it, when you go and you look at it, there’s some funding that goes to
some sort of coordinating entity. And in our case, it’s
the National Map Corps. And what happens is
you have a — in — a shadow source that
comes into the system, they provide shadow source
data, which is vetted, there’s usually an
overhead for that, it goes into your trusted bucket,
and then it could be pumped into the GNIS processing system. And then you have trusted
sources who can go directly into your data bucket, or almost
directly into the data bucket, and then pumped over into
it, with much less overhead. And one of the jobs of the
coordinators is to get people to volunteer and the
second one is to move people from your shadow sources
to your trusted sources. Now it should be done here,
right, but no, no, no. Okay, so this is an interesting
diagram for the National Map Corps. This is 2014-2015. This is when they first started
operationally really getting going. And what you found here is they
have, they’ve got 2000 accounts, these are 2000 people who have
registered into the system over that time period, and they
provided 125,000 contributions in that time period. That’s pretty good. I’ll just put this in context. I managed a project in
Florida for collecting data. Over a year we had four
geography students work with us half time and
we were paying them. And we were able to
collect 40,000 records over the period of about a year. So this is really pretty good. Next, this is really
an interesting one. This is a logarithmic curve
of data provided by user. Which states there are a few users
that provide you a whole bunch of stuff and the rest
provide just a little. This is a universal phenomenon. All right. Of all the literature that I
read, it happens everywhere. There’s a few people that do all the
work, whether it’s the soccer moms, there’s one person
that’s running the show. It’s the same thing here as it is
in all volunteer organizations. It’s not that the other
stuff is not important. I mean there is data coming
in and usually people do it by their interest, their
particular geographic location. Now, let’s look at coordinators and leaders’ relationships
to the volunteers. Your job is to create
authoritative data using volunteers. You’re a coordinator. How are you going to do that? What tools do you have? You have no authority
over the volunteers except to tell them to not participate. You have no funds and you can’t
give them timeout [laughter]. So what can you do? Okay, now this is something
I always found very valuable. A manager’s job is to make it
possible for their employees or volunteers to do a good job. If you ain’t doing that, you’re
not necessarily a good manager as far as I’m concerned. I’ve worked under a number
of them, and you know, yeah if you’ve got a paycheck
coming in, yeah, you’ll stay there for a while, but you’ll be going
looking for something else. If you’re a volunteer, you’re going
to be there for about a minute. So, there’s three things you
can work on as a coordinator, and that is motivation,
quality assurance, and working towards improving
the number of trusted sources. Okay, so let’s first look at
motivating your communities. And you’ll notice,
I keep circling back because there’s these concepts kind
of overlap and build on themselves, it’s almost like a Venn diagram,
or multiple Venn diagrams. Okay, so how do you get — you increase the participation
of your volunteers? Well, you provide them with
recognition and reward. It seems pretty simple, but
it’s pretty straightforward. I got a pen. You know, it makes me feel
good and I appreciate that. Okay, you make it easy. And this is probably one of
the most important things, and it’s been pointed out
with people I’ve talked to multiple times, is you make
their work, you minimize the amount of input that they have to do. Minimize their work, make it simple. Give them tools to work with. Provide them training and with
user guides, WebEx is great. You know a lot of the travel that
we’ve done has been cut down simply because you can stay in your own
office and talk with a group of 20, 30 people, and get everything
you get done as if you’d flown and got everybody together in one
place and it had taken two days. Document success. One thing you can do is if you’ve
got a best practice, well, you know, you could pay somebody to put
together a best practices document. Target specialist communities,
and I’ll get back to this again, that have an interest
in the resulting data. These are Type I, Type II,
and Type III volunteers. And accept the idea, and
this is real important one, that the idea of going beyond your
mission can be a valuable motivator. BGN’s requirements
are pretty strict. And hopefully I’ll give
you a way of looking at it where maybe you can think about
it a little differently and kind of go beyond that —
those boundaries. All right. Quality Assurance. There’s a misconception crowd
source data is unreliable. Remember that little
verboten, you know, source? Well, when people — Nancy [inaudible] and I call
these people the “Yeah but’ers.” You know people don’t really
understand what’s going on. Don’t understand the
complexity of the system. And you know, you tell them
something, what you’ve been working on for a year, and they say, without
thinking much about it, “Yeah, but.” That’s pretty much, you know. So people like tend
to condemn things without having really
looked into it. So there’s a bunch of things that you can actually do
to assure data quality. There’s self-regulation. The Wikipedia approach is great. I mean, I give money
to that organization. Peer review is a wonderful thing. It’s really good info. You need to make it simple. I’ve already talked about that. You need to develop data
checking procedures, and I’ll get back to that. Whether it’s sampling, you can go
and sample the data that’s coming in by volunteers, or
there’s automation processes that are being developed. And track and evaluate the
data input by provider. Which leads us right into creating a
trusted data source, which the core of it is tracking and
evaluate the data by provider. That’s how it’s done. Because what you’re doing
is developing familiarity with what the person
is providing you. And if a person’s doing a good
job, then what you should do, or — and actually what the National Map
Corps does is they create levels of responsibility or authority based
on the track record of the provider. So you — those super providers are
provided with a fast track pathway into the authoritative data sphere. That’s key here. National Map Corps identifies these
super providers as advance editors. They have — they’ve got 200
entries and they’re good, all right, you can trust that person. It’s like your friend. You can count on them. Make use of that. This is an interesting diagram. This is the data they
provided in the past. Well, since 2012-2015,
these are data points just from the National Map Corps. And you can look — there’s
two really interesting things about this. One is there’s a lot of points. The other one is you look
at Nevada and you go, “Wow, they ain’t doing much in Nevada.” Well, you know, if you know
anything about Nevada, 82, and actually the I have to
preface this by the focus on the data they’re
collecting is structures, emergency management,
schools, etcetera. If you know anything about
Nevada, it’s 82% federal land. So is that little border of — there’s a lot of federal land in
that border in California too. Now the other one is Iowa. See Iowa is yellow, right? It’s all yellow. This is pretty interesting. This is somebody on
the logarithmic curve. On the end of it, there’s a — I was told that from the
National Map Corps folks, that there was this young lady
in, I think she was in Iowa, and she got interested —
she’s like 15 — 14, 15. And she got interested
in career paths and found the National Map Corps
and got interested in putting data in for over the summer, and got
interested in putting data in, and then got focused on cemeteries. And so over the summer, four or
five hours a day, she punched in — she — those are mostly
cemeteries — she punched in a lot
of cemeteries in Iowa. Okay, so if you want to know
anything about cemeteries, you could talk to that little lady. And so that’s a best practice
that should be documented. And there’s great value in that. This is another very interesting —
I mean it kind of goes back to some of what I’ve been talking about. This is the National Map Corps,
this is the number of providers. Starts over the period of year,
I think this is 2014 and 2015. That’s the bar graph. Those blocks up there are
things that they’ve done. From newsletters that have gone out. Things of that nature. Well there’s two peaks. See two peaks in there where,
or that the line is the number of active providers, okay? So the first peak was a call that
went out from the National Map Corps to reach 100,000 records. See that peak? And the next one was a map challenge
that they made to their volunteers, who said, “Okay, here’s
something to do. Let’s — got to make that happen.” So these things that they do, if you’ve got a good coordinating
entity and you fund these people, and I know I’ve kind
of been a coordinator and people have a tendency not to
fund them, you can get a lot done. Okay, now I’ve never met this
woman, but she’s my buddy. Laura Kostanski. She’s from Australia and
she wrote an article called “Crowd-Sourcing Geospatial
Information for Government Gazetteers.” It’s like a 60-page research paper
that she did by talking to — well she came from Australia. I think she was the
gazetteer person there. She went to the United
States, England, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and she interviewed
like, well 20 entities, private and public, and she gave
up 10 lessons learned. I call these the 10 commandments of
volunteer geographic information. And I’m just going to
march through these because I think it’s —
oh, oh, no, I was right. One is focus on the end user. You need to motivate them. There needs to be something
in it for them. You can’t do just what you want. You’ve got to do what they want. And this is — the second
one is don’t rely solely on digital technology. Here in the U.S., everybody’s
got it, but in the undeveloped
countries, maybe not. You can use a map and
a pen and paper and collect information that way. The other thing to recognize is
your volunteers can only do so much. So don’t like fire
your staff and try to, you know, just hire volunteers. It’s just not going to happen. So, you’re going to have to
be able to fill in those gaps. You’re going, you know, the idea is
to make it simple for the volunteers so they can get that information in. Well, you may have to fill out some of the other information
that goes along with it. Be happy with what
users want to provide. Give them guidance
and scope, etcetera. Okay, you also need to work with
these special interest groups, Type I, Type 2, Type 3, all of them. These include state and
federal agencies, other — and I know the Census Bureau
works with BGN and provides data, but there’s others
like the Department of Natural Environmental Protection,
parks and recs, school systems, state GIS boards, the
NGO’s, borders, hikers, those people all have an interest
in providing or having name data. Okay, and then provide easy and
simple assessable technology. I mean these were her
lessons learned, okay. The National Map Corps doing
a real good job about that. Develop policies for
quality assurance. There’s a great focus on
that, using both kind of like, you’re using both a lesson you’re
providing them with how to do it, as well as procedures for
checking the information. Track entries. I mean this was kind of what was
already done and what they’re doing. Provide greater responsibility
to your trusted sources and give rewards and
attention to the volunteers. This is tangible things such as
data points and some of the places where they need information
real quick, cash. Give them, you know, if you
really need to collect data in an emergency management situation
or in an undeveloped country, provide, you know,
people collect data, if it’s good, pay them something. That’s a real good motivator. Intangible things, this is
communication, improved information for the user groups
and more independence. And most importantly, I
think very importantly here, is to reevaluate your data
spectrum to attract user interest. I know what the requirements
are for the GNIS. And it’s written out,
very specifically, and in a federal agency it’s
really hard to wander from that and I hope I have a solution here. But, provide unofficial data,
along with official data. This is target the data to the users but also not only points,
but lines and polygons. That’s what people
really want to use. It’s been talked about multiple
times on what value there is, by being able to have a point, have
a place name, that’s on a point, and then connect that
to a footprint. And then offsite trusted sources. Okay, so let’s look at
offsite trusted sources and how I think this might happen. So you have your authoritative
data sphere and you have your trusted
data sphere. My suggestion is that you — the BGN
provides guidelines to the state. The state geographic
information counsels for example. They have databases in there, right? Tell them what it’s supposed to look like for an unofficial
names database. They can do what they want to. They can hook up shape piles to it. They can put the lines and
the footprints in there. They probably already have them. Get them — get some
way to encourage them to get those things connected
together with the GNIS ID and then, you know — so that will
be available to the people in that particular state. And then over time, you can use
that tool to be able to pull stuff into your system, and if ever
it happens that, you know, you get the authority to put
those lines and polygons, they’ll be sitting there. Okay, I used to have a boss when I
first started with technology field and I’d go over and talk to him. I was in the technical part and
he’s the policy-type person, and he would give us kind of a
work order to do and I’d walk over and talk to him and then
we’d discuss things. And I’d say, “Well,
what about this?” Or, “What about that?” And his response was
always, “And do that too.” [ Laughter ] Now, I kind of cut
back on the number of things I suggested after a while. [ Laughter ] But this is my “And Do
That Too” list for BGN. And I’m just completely ignoring,
you know, all practicalities and budget and everything else. First of all, a user
needs assessment. Oh, you see this “LK?” That’s Laura Kostanski’s Commandment
One and Commandment Four. That’s how that all matches up. Okay, so do a user needs assessment. These are not very complicated to do if you’ve got the right
people doing it. You can do phone calls
and just ask people. Do a user needs assessment
by organization to figure out what they really want and
then kind of start thinking about how you can like,
if they can get something, it has to be a win-win
for everybody. Go to State GIS organizations. There’s a National States
Geographical Information Board where all those folks get together. It’d be a really good way if you’ve
got a plan set out, to communicate with these folks about what
you’d like to have happen, such as giving them with a
suggestion, put on the table, that whole notion of guidelines
for an offsite names database. Challenges. Identify tasks to be
completed for particularly where you’ve got your gaps. I mean, it’s not only for
outside, but also inside. And allow users to
identify data opportunity. One of the things in the effort that
we did in Florida was that I found out that at the state
level, the Department of Education had a database of
all schools and coordinates. So we took that data
and pushed it into GNIS, as part of what we were doing. But of course, they’re — that
database still sits with just that. So my suggestion is that you would
have somebody that’s identified a data source, or whatever
the heck that it happens to be — this is just an example. They can send a letter to BGN. BGN could say, yeah, this seems like
a good project, we trust this guy. Send a letter to the Department of
Education, give it an introduction, anoint this person
to go talk to him. And then they could put their
proposal forward, which would be, hey, this is how this
whole thing fits together, because they have no idea about this
BGN and the [inaudible] database. This is how it all works,
if we put the unique idea in here we can use this —
we could use this to be able to pull this data together,
do what the previous — we talked about connecting
everything together. And we can keep that
up on a regular basis. And then, by the way, we’ll put the
names in for you, and all you got to do is add a field and
dump it into your database, which is about a four
hour work order, you know. I mean — and you’re there. I mean, it could work. So it’s actually, you know, kind
of pushing the whole business of giving, you know, more responsibility to
your trusted sources. Provide access to official
and unofficial data. Kind of talked about that. Footprints, lines of polygons,
that’s what people really want. It’s okay, you already sell that
point in the middle of Russia, that’s not nearly as good
as polygons, all right? So if you got a state park or a city
park, points great but you really — I mean, if you’re local — I
mean, it’s great if you’re looking at the national level, but a
local level you really would like to have access to that
polygon [inaudible] index or a dictionary to the polygon. It ties things together for you. And publish successful
data collection procedures. Run out and grab that little
girl in Iowa and get her to write down what her procedures are. Okay, so here’s the conclusion. VGI, crowd sourcing, can be used
to create authoritative data. I truly believe so. It’s here now, it’s being done,
it’s been done for 10 years. And to paraphrase an
alleged Chinese curse, the future will be
interesting time [laughter]. Okay, here’s my references
[inaudible] number right there. Questions? I have no idea where I was. I wasn’t looking at you. [ Applause ]>>Yes. So what do you
think about [inaudible] now?>>David Stage: You know, I know a
whole lot about the OpenStreetMap, where I’ve read [inaudible]
said, I mean, she seemed like she
pretty much liked the idea. But one of the things that I did
note, which is not a direct answer to your question, is that I think
it may have been OpenStreetMaps, and I can’t — I forget
which one it was. But when they talked about —
somebody talked with them about, you know, taking on
the responsibility of providing authoritative data,
and they said, no, we don’t do that. It’s like it’s a government job
to do those sorts of things, and we just can’t handle that. But she did suggest [inaudible]
did suggest that the entities, you know — I mean, VGN would
[inaudible] she talked to would work out relationships with Google
or OpenStreetMaps to upright within that volunteer sphere,
that’s the way I would describe it.>>I think it’s really interesting because it is — it’s
a very fine line. I mean, you could see a time
obviously authority plays a role and that’s a role that is being —
it’s government’s responsibility to make sure that the
names are official, and to work within the process. So if you can imagine a world where
social media totally [inaudible], so we can say, oh, Washington
D.C. is trending, oh, it’s Washington D.C. [laughter]. Thirty seconds later, oh,
no longer, it’s Miami again. You know, the crowd can be tickled,
but the crowd is very powerful. And this is really something
that’s going to be worked out in the next few years.>>I don’t know if
you are [inaudible] but they’ve done something somewhat
similar to this, but they didn’t go out to the crowd overall. Like in their mapping system you
can say, oh, I’m in this hotel and I want to know
where I can [inaudible], you can do that [inaudible]. But the way they did it was
[inaudible] Chambers of Commerce of each area and got them to agree
[inaudible] business interest that way and they get
the Chamber of Commerce to then maintain the [inaudible]
into the mapping agency. It’s more of a common [inaudible].>>David Stage: Yeah, I could
see where that would work. I mean, that would be a source,
because there’s other stuff, like, you know, the peaks on a
mountain and creeks and rivers, and all those sorts of things
that maybe they wouldn’t have. But if would be a very
good data source. I mean, that’s what
you’re suggesting here, is it would be an excellent data
source to look at the Chamber of Commerce as — I mean, that’s
the people that have an interest in these sorts of things, so maybe
you should contact them and figure out what their business
interests are, and figure out how
it connects together. Yeah.>>As people interact with the
digital mapping [inaudible] and they interact in their
environment and record things out [inaudible] in these
open source mapping systems, what do you see is the
potential for creating new names and getting acceptance
for those names that somehow then become
[inaudible]?>>David Stage: That would be —
you know, I’d go back to the model where is you’ve got a source
of information that goes into this sphere, you’ve got
this place where it can operate. Where so if you have — you know, if you have like an entity that’s
actually collecting this — this information or this
data, I mean, you know, one of the suggestions — you
know, I could just [inaudible]. One of the suggestions that
I would make is, you know, provide these people with some
guidelines on what to do, you know. And if they can meet
it, then they’re more of a trusted source than, you know, if they didn’t have
that information. And so you can see
somebody that’s actually — or some entity or some
application that’s doing something of this nature, and then you
provide them the guidelines, and they’re following them, then
it kind of moves that person from a shadow source more
towards a trusted source.>>[Inaudible] bottom up move
of naming where people begin to accept the name and then that name becomes authoritative
[inaudible].>>David Stage: Oh, as
opposed to BGN looking at it and saying yay or nay?>>I’d have trouble with
that personally [laughter].>>David Stage: Yes?>>My question actually
[inaudible] that. You mentioned authoritative
[inaudible] through BGN. But I’m a geography teacher and my authoritative
source is my curriculum, so right now my curriculum actually
has me teaching [inaudible] names of places.>>David Stage: Well –>>So what do you see as the
future of [inaudible] maps?>>David Stage: Well
[inaudible] has aliases in it, and they have a single [inaudible]
ID and they have one name that sits on top and they have aliases
and you can pull them all up, and it seems to work, if you ask me. [Inaudible] names, but you really — I mean, you can just see an
[inaudible] management you got like a single name here and somebody
says something that’s not sitting up on the top, somebody calls in
and says, I’m at such and such. Well, if you got — you can
call that name up, you know, with technology, and match
it up with the real name, and match it up with coordinates. I mean, that’s how that whole
linking together stuff works. So, you know, conceptually,
I mean, that’s — the technology pulls that
all together for you.>>If I could ask Helen
maybe to stand up. She can — has seen how different
countries handle this dual naming or it’s called by different things. And maybe you could
just mention that. So do you want to come up the mic? I think this is a very
interesting issue and it’s a very — it’s a challenging one
and it’s an emerging one.>>Helen Kerfoot: Well, first
I guess this dual naming or multiple naming at an official
level, an authoritative level. And I think there are many
countries across the world now who are processing more than one
name for a feature or a place. For example I showed you Norway and
[inaudible] this morning, in Sweden and in Finland there’s more
than one name for places. Australia has, Canada has, and
I could go on further than that. So that’s sort of an official level. At the unofficial level, as
you’ve heard about the — from David now, Sweden has had a
project where they collected names on a cell phone and that was with
an app that they had produced in [inaudible] and they did it for just one city, it
was a pilot project. They collected I think quite a lot
of names, but haven’t found a way of processing it, but
have passed these over to the municipality
for potential use. There are I guess other
people who are trying this out but haven’t quite found
a way of working it in with their names of authority. And the example of
Denmark that was given, I saw a demo of their database
and heard about it last week, and I think that’s a
very interesting concept. Maybe it’s a much smaller
country, but they, for instance, would like to say,
well, I’m at point X, what administrative unit am I in,
what’s my — where do I go to vote? In other words they want to
have multiple links on this. And they were gathering
names from various sources, like the police were
interested in putting names in, and obviously they would be
one of the trusted sources. And this would be, again, for such
a rescue [inaudible] emergency uses. So I think Denmark was making
a lot of progress on this. Other Scandinavian countries, such
as Norway and Sweden were wanting to put into their databases what
they call points of reference, and this might be even down to
the level of sort of restaurants. But then they have
to be very careful to keep commercial names
separated from other names. But, again, it’s all a
question of use, I think, for probably emergencies. I think that’s what happened
with the street mapping examples like in Haiti when [inaudible] great
collection of names very suddenly to meet a particular situation,
but that doesn’t mean to say that they were terribly reliable. It doesn’t mean to say they
have been maintained since. So I guess there were many
questions on this name, both at the official level
and the unofficial level. And for many authorities
I think it’s — even with the steps provided, it
still takes a lot of resources, and I guess that’s really how to even start doing
it is a big question.>>David Stage: Yeah, I mean,
[inaudible] good example of one of them personally. I can say anything personally.>>Helen Kerfoot: Yeah,
that’s not just names, is it?>>David Stage: Hon?>>Helen Kerfoot: That’s
not just names?>>David Stage: This is the
name and the coordinate.>>Helen Kerfoot: Yeah.>>David Stage: This is the
name and the coordinate. To be honest with you, I do not know
what other information they collect, and there’s a lot of other
things that goes along with it. You know, other — there’s the
authoritative process where a lot of stuff is collected
[inaudible] database. And so this is like
the minimal information to get things like moving.>>Douglas Caldwell:
Thank you very much.>>David Stage: Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: And
I should be clear on this, because sometimes there
is some confusion. For names in the United States
there is one official name that the BGN provides. For foreign names there may
be multiple approved names. So that’s just the way it is. [ Laughter ] But you can imagine if some
countries have multiple languages, some countries have multiple
languages that apply only in certain areas [inaudible]
run through multiple countries. So it’s not quite as
easy in those situations. Our final speaker today
I’m very pleased to introduce, Mr. Juan Valdes. He is the Geographer and Director of
Editorial and Cartographic Research at the National Geographic Society. He is responsible for ensuring
the accuracy and consistency of National Geographic
maps and products. Now approaching 40 years of service,
he has worked in one capacity or another on every
type of map produced by the National Geographic Society,
including map supplements, globes, page maps, dynamic mapping
platform, and five additions of National Geographic’s
renowned Atlas of the world. National Geographic is
internationally recognized for their exceptional cartography. Mr. Valdes will conclude our
presentations with an insider’s view of geographic names and the
association between the BGN and the National Geographic. Thank you very much. [ Applause ] [ Inaudible Speaker ]>>Juan Jose Valdes:
All right, very good. Well, on behalf to the
National Geographic Society, I would like to extend our
congratulations to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names on its
[inaudible] centennial. And I’m going to take you in
a very different direction than the last two presenters. I’m going to give you some history as to the relationship
between organizations. And in putting this paper together,
I found out a lot of information that really I couldn’t put
down on less than 33 slides. I could have been here
for a couple of hours, so I condensed this
as much as possible. Prompted by a desire to share
their scientific interests, ideas, and findings, the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society
first met in the Cosmos Club in Washington D.C. on
January 13th, 1888. Among them were four men; John
Wesley Powell, Henry Gunnett, Marcus Baker, and Herbert G. Ogden. Powell played a key role
in promoting the creation of a special government board
to deal with geographic names. Two years later, Henry Gunnett, the
father of government cartography, along with Ogden and Baker
would be among the first members of a board created for the purpose of standardizing geographic names
throughout the executive departments of the government, the U.S.
Board on Geographic Names. In the beginning, National
Geographic relied on cartographic houses to produce
most of its maps, like the Russia in Europe inset in the
January 1898 issue. [Inaudible] source on
this map was its producer, Dodd Mead and Company publishers. Place name conventions were first
addressed in the August 1890 issue of the National Geographic Magazine. Herbert G. Ogden, now a
Society vice president, and Marcus Baker contributed
to an article entitled, “A Geographic Nomenclature.” Of [inaudible] was there suggestion that a board should be formed
consisting of representatives from the different departments
and bureaus in Washington. They issued maps, charts, and
other publications requiring geographic names. This issue also contained
an appendix which presented the British,
French and German systems for the autography and pronunciation
of foreign geographic names. It also stated that all Society
publications would follow the rules adopted in 1855 by the Royal
Geographical Society in London. Later, in April 30th, 1891,
Herbert G. Ogden reported on President Harrison’s
creation of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names on
September 4th, 1890. Interesting enough,
Ogden titled the piece, “The American Board
of Geographic Names.” It addressed the composition of
the board, 10 representatives from different departments
and bureaus of the government, and included its first bulletin,
which announced the adoption of the English system for the
treatment of foreign place names and transliterations
into Roman characters. In the July 1986 issue,
Henry Gunnett expounded on the accomplishments of
the board, noting the number of meetings it had held to date, 48, and the number of decided
cases, 2835. He also defended the
board from its detractors, noting that geographic names
may be broadly distinguished into two classes, “Those which
are established by local usage, and those which are
not so established.” [Laughter] I had to read
that a couple of times. He stressed that in regard to the
former class, the primary principle which controls the
decisions of the board is that commonly local usage
[inaudible] prevail. Although Puerto Rico had been
among the first names to be adopted by the board, many including
renowned Geologist, Robert T. Hill, as the title of his March
1899 article attests, continued to promote
the use of the variant if not archaic form of
the name, Porto Rico. Nine months after this
publication, his — of his article, Hill continued
the debate over the name of the newly seated territory
by making an elaborate case for the adoption of Porto Rico
as the islands conventional name. His view of the board was
clearly expressed in the first of the five points in his argument. In that same issue, John Hyde,
the magazine’s interim editor, refuted Hill’s points, stressing that the National Geographic
Society regards the board as one and only standard of authority
on geographic nomenclature as far as the government and people of
the United States are concerned. So there you go [laughter]. To emphasis the Society’s
support of the board, Gilbert Hobygrovner
[assumed spelling], the magazine’s first
managing editor, began publishing it’s decisions
in the August 1900 issue, and would do so periodically
until March of 1907. When warranted, the
magazine informed its readers about the board’s special reports. In this case one on the list
showing approved spellings for 4000 coastal place
names in the Philippines. To compliment the Korea
and Manchuria map insert, the board’s pronunciation
guide for place names in Eastern Asia was republished as a ready reference feature
in the March 1904 issue. The editor justified it’s
inclusion by stating that, “The breaking out of the war between
Russia and Japan is bringing trouble to every household in the land. For place names of Korea and
Manchuria are spelled differently by different newspapers,
and on different maps. A system which is simple,
easy of application, and which if generally followed
reduces these variations of spellings to a minimum. Therefore, use this guide.” The March 1905 issue
continued a lengthy article on the [inaudible] history
of the United States. Its aim was to let the readers
know that among the best ways to determine the history of a place,
be it a region, city, mountain, or body of water, was by its name. A premise that still
holds true today. While the July 1905 issue contained
a listing of the board’s decisions from April through June of that
year, it would be the first and last time the decisions on foreign names would
appear in the magazine. On occasion the magazine
notified its readers of key board related events. Here, President Roosevelt’s
January 1906 extension of the board’s responsibility was
duly noted in the March 1906 issue. In the July 1906 issue, which featured the first wildlife
photograph, signaled a start of the magazine’s move from
a purely scientific journal to becoming an illustrated
monthly magazine. To this end, the March 1907 issue
was the last to carry decisions on the United States
Geographic Board. Three years after it’s
formation, in March 1915, National Geographic’s Map Department
published its first map supplement, the Western Theatre of War. It was described and promoted
as, “Presenting a complete and authoritative survey
of all places, forests and river systems figuring in the [inaudible] dispatches
from the western front.” Among the sources used to produce
this map insert were official maps of the French and Belgium
Departments of War, with place name assistance
from the board. Adherence to the board’s
policy was not only prevalent in place name usage in the Society’s
second insert map of Africa, but in its equivalence
table as well. The table emphasized the use of the board’s approved
British transliteration system, and the spelling of native names, and in expressing the English sound
equivalence of French, Italian and Portuguese spellings. Soon our other maps would
follow his convention, including our first Political Map of the World published
in December of 1922. The December 1944 issue of the
Society’s new map supplement of the Soviet Union boasted
that it was the first and only available detailed
map of Soviet Russia with place names in English. It promoted the fact
that the spelling of more than 8000 place names with
the English alphabet was in itself a formidable task,
a task made much easier with the assistance of the board. In 1958 [inaudible] 70th anniversary
of the Society’s founding, a new map series was started in which the entire world
was mapped, region by region. The maps in this series
would eventually evolve into [inaudible] published in the
first edition Atlas of the World in 1963, and would go on to serve as a cartographic platform
for all future editions. Per Society policy, both the
domestic and foreign name branches of the board were consulted on appropriate place
name usage on all plates. In announcing the publication
the revised sixth edition Atlas, the November 1992 geographica
feature noted that every map naming any part
of either Yugoslavia or the USSR, even a map of Alaska, which
shares the Bering Straits with Russia, changed. And here’s where I vividly
recall a former geographer, Ted Dakara [assumed spelling], going
to BGN offices on a weekly basis and coming back with reams and
reams of place name changes, and the new countries
of Eastern Europe. This is the way we used to do place
name changes in the past, by hand. Slow and meticulous process. The 1990s witnessed the
introduced a new feature titled, “Behind the Scenes.” It was intended to provide our
readers with an inside look into the workings of the geographic. The November 1995 issue contained a
piece on Kazakhstan’s new spelling as confirmed by the board. Ironically, after changing our
maps to reflect the new spelling, and promoting this piece,
the ancient Kazakhstan was to be restored a mere two
years later [laughter]. As you’ve seen the Society’s first
began disseminating BGN approved place names in its journals quickly
to be followed by its supplement, page maps, globes, atlases, apps
and other cartographic products, including our giant traveling maps
for students, which averaging 26 by 35 feet in size, are the
largest maps we have ever produced. Our cartographic line
still adheres to some of the place name conventions
whose origins can be traced back to the early day sort of the
U.S. Board on Geographic Names, including the prolific use
of conventional place names for cultural and physical features. For shared geographic features. For variant place names. For transliterated place names. As well as for contentious
place names. Today the collaboration
between the Society and the board remains
as strong as ever. Any pertinent information
that we obtain, in this case the Cuban
government’s official announcement on the creation of two new
provinces on January 1st of 2011, it’s quickly shared
not only with the BGN but with our colleagues at state. So in keeping with John Hyde’s
comments in the December 1899 issue of National Geographic, the Society
has always regarded the U.S. Board on Geographic Names as the authority
on geographic nomenclature. A fact that is duly addressed
in the Geographic Style Manual, which is accessible
to the entire world. And one that we will
surely recognize in the board’s bicentennial. [ Applause ] Questions? No questions? Okay.>>Douglas Caldwell: Okay.>>Thank you.>>Juan Jose Valdes:
Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Douglas Caldwell: Okay. Again, I would like to thank
the Library of Congress for hosting the event, and the Philip Lee Phillips
Society for their sponsorship. I’d like to thank the
Special Communications, in particular the former chair, Meredith Wessington [assumed
spelling], who is [inaudible] now and not able to be with us today. I’d also to thank Mike
Fornier [assumed spelling] from the Census Bureau who helped
originate the idea for this and got it off the ground. And I’d like the members of the Special Communications
Committee to please stand up. So, thank you. So they’ve done all the
work that’s gone into — [ Applause ] I’d also like to thank the agencies
that provided financial support for the event, including the Forest
Service, the Library of Congress, the Department of State, the
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the U.S. Geological Survey. In particular I’d like to thank
our speakers who made this such a wonderful event today, and
shared knowledge that you just — you just can’t find elsewhere. This is the experience
and the insight that just is not available
elsewhere, so I really want to
thank our speakers. And most of all I’d like
to thank you for coming. I tell you, our Geographic
Names would not be functioning without the support of the
public, and the interest, and the input and everything. And so I really appreciate
your coming today to share our birthday party. So now at this time we’re
going to be moving downstairs to the Geography and Map
Division, which is in the basement, for a very special open house, where
the staff has prepared a display of artifacts relating to
geographic names in general, and the BGN in particular. You’ll not only have a chance to see
rare materials that are not usually on display for the public, but
you will also have the opportunity to mingle with [inaudible]. The exhibit will close
promptly at 5:00 p.m., so without further ado, thank you. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

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