Searching for Geographic Place Names

SearchingGeneral Search TipsSearching for PlacesSearching for Geographic Place Names

Definition: the name of a location on the earth’s surface. It may be a natural feature, such as a mountain, river or the site of human activity, such as a city, town, county, mine, or ranch. Examples: Pike’s Peak, Platte River, Durango, Caribou Mine, Livermore Ranch.

Search Strategy

  • Place names and their spellings have changed over time. Use reference sources to discover older names or variant spellings of places to search. For example, Colorado City was absorbed by Colorado Springs. Canyon may have been spelled Canon or Caqon.
  • Consider the location of the newspaper that you’re searching. Searching for the word “Denver” in the Denver Tribune will not be practical because the word appears in the title of the newspaper. In addition, articles about the city may not mention the name Denver. However, searching for “Denver” in newspapers from other cities may retrieve pertinent items.

Links to Resources

Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is a database of United States place names, developed by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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