After importing a GEDCOM file of my family history into Gramps, I noticed the place names were really inconsistent. I didn't like how they looked. So I decided to clean them up, which led to a new way for me of handling places. This change does take awhile, in fact, I'm still not finished with updating all my places. But, this method is so much better that it is worth it.

Nested Places

Gramps supports the idea of nested locations. For example, the United States contains 50 states. Each one of those states contains counties or parishes. Each county or parish contains towns or cities. Canada contains provinces, Germany contains states, and so on.

It is worthwhile arranging your places in a hierarchy because information is not repeated. A record for a state only needs to be entered once. That may not be so important for a state name, but it also means that all the data you have added to a state, such as geographic coordinates, photos, or internet links to information about the state only needs to be entered once.

Two Place Views

Launch Gramps with your family tree. Click on the "Places" option on the sidebar menu and you will see a list of your defined places. The thing to know is that there are two different views of your places. The first is the default view that simply shows all of you places as a list. Note the icon on the toolbar that shows places as a list.

The next icon on the toolbar can display your places in a hierarchical view. Check out the two screen shot below.


First, select Places from the left side menu. Next, select the icon shown in the picture. If you hover you mouse over the icon for a second, a mini tooltip will pop up that says "Place Tree". That's the one we're interested in. The other icon has a tooltip that says "Places". If you toggle between the "Place Tree" and "Places" views, you may not notice much difference. But, when we finish, the difference will much more dramatic.

Cleaning Up Your Data

If you are starting out fresh with no data, then you will have it easy. Just take care to enter your data carefully and you will be off to a great start.

Unfortunately, many of us are not in that situation. I imported my data from a GEDCOM file and see that there is a great amount of work to do. There can be several problems with the data, like:

  • Duplicate locations
  • Incomplete places identification
  • Ambiguous place names

I see there is a lot of work to do. But, it doesn't have to be all done at once. So, cleaning up data can be done 10 minutes at a time. Or, when you get to feeling, roll up your sleeves and dig in for a while.

Getting Started

A great place to start is with a Country. If you have no data then we are going to add a new place by clicking the '+' Add a new place icon on the toolbar. If you have an existing country, you can edit it.