Monday, 4 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016: C is for Chapman Codes

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com
"Chapman Codes" are familiar to many genealogists who are working on ancestors from counties in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.  They were created by Dr Colin Chapman in the late 1970s as a type of shorthand for genealogy: DOR for Dorset, SOM for Somerset, DEV for Devon and so on.

As abbreviations, one system was in use by the English Place Name Society (established 1923), the Society of Genealogists, the Federation of Family History Societies, even the Post Office, and thousands of other individuals and groups.  So Dr Chapman used the English Place Name Society's and the Society of Genealogist's systems, and created the Chapman Codes to merge everything together and assist at a time of computer development.

But as genealogy becomes more global, they are not quite as useful as they were to those of us on this side of the screen, in my opinion.  I try and avoid all abbreviations as much as possible.  For instance, I came across a WikiTree profile the other day which said that the individual had been born in MA. Where? I knew it was North America, but I had to go to a search engine to find out exactly where (Massachusetts).  I received a wonderful GEDCOM (now used as a word in its own right, seemingly, rather than an acronym) years ago from someone in Australia.  It was peppered with abbreviations and acronymns like SA (South Australia) and NSW (New South Wales), and it had travelled from the United States of America originally, so it had those abbreviations, too.

So computers can still use Chapman Codes in genealogy, but I would plead: do NOT abbreviate placenames if you can possibly help it.



© 2016 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

14 comments:

  1. A very good point - as so many place names could have the same abbreviation - especially if ancestors are being located around the world!
    Pempi
    A Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How about the census one I found, where it had been written that the birthplace was 'Taunton, Som.' so the transcriber put down 'Taunton, Somalia' (groan) as opposed to 'Taunton, Somerset'...

      Delete
  2. Very good point. I tend to expand when it is in another country and not mine, not thinking that others may be reading it and wondering. I will try to be more consistent.
    One problem I had with transcribers with many certificates, clearly from Ontario, my ancestors were baptized, married and buried in Pittsburgh - Ontario not Pennsylvania!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We probably all do it: think "oh, I know where that is", and type straight off. For instance, did you know that there was a Paris, France, and a Paris, Texas? Or that Perth is in Scotland AND Australia? Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. Food for thought. Our FHG has just asked our members to use Chapman Codes in our Members' Interests List - I think we may need to revise instructions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They CAN be very useful indeed. You just have to be careful and not assume things.

      Delete
  4. Such cool information! Thank you.

    Happy April 4th!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome. Happy April 5th!

      Delete
  5. You are so right and some of the abbreviations of the U.S. States are really weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too true! Mind you, there are some weird English ones as well.

      Delete
  6. Some excellent points here. An example of possible confusion is the abbreviation SA which can be South Africa or South Australia

    ReplyDelete
  7. Not using codes or abbreviations when writing family history blog posts is important as many readers are not genealogists. I do resort to 'NZ' on ocassions when I am getting lazy.
    Fran @travelgenee from the TravelGenee Blog

    ReplyDelete

Copyright

You may NOT use the contents of this site for commercial purposes without explicit written permission from the author and blog owner. Commercial purposes includes blogs with ads and income generating features, and/or blogs or sites using feed content as a replacement for original content. Full content usage is not permitted.

You Might Also Be Interested In

Total Pageviews

Blog Archive