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Record Search Query: ServiceParameters>REFERENCE AND INFORMATION SERVICES>GAZETTEER

USGS Geographic Names Information System: United States and Territories Online Database
Entry ID: GNIS
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Summary
Abstract: The U.S. Board on Geographic Names is a Federal body created in 1890 and established in its present form by Public Law in 1947 to maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government. The Board comprises representatives of Federal agencies concerned with geographic information, population, ecology, and management of public lands. Sharing its responsibilities with the Secretary of the Interior, the Board promulgates official geographic feature names with locative attributes as well as principles, policies, and procedures governing the use of domestic names, foreign names, Antarctic names, and undersea feature names.

The original program of names standardization addressed the complex issues of domestic geographic feature names during the surge of exploration, mining, and settlement of western territories after the American Civil War. Inconsistencies and contradictions among many names, spellings, and applications became a serious problem to surveyors, map makers, and scientists who required uniform, non-conflicting geographic nomenclature. President Benjamin Harrison signed an Executive Order establishing the Board and giving it authority to resolve unsettled geographic names questions. Decisions of the Board were accepted as binding by all departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

The Board gradually expanded its interests to include foreign names and other areas of interest to the United States, a process that accelerated during World War II. In 1947, the Board was recreated by Congress in Public Law 80-242. The usefulness of standardizing (not regulating) geographic names has been proven time and again, and today more than 50 nations have some type of national names authority. The United Nations stated that "the best method to achieve international standardization is through strong programs of national standardization." Numerous nations established policies relevant to toponomy (the study of names) in their respective countries.

In this age of geographic information systems, the Internet, and homeland defense, geographic names data are even more important and more challenging. Applying the latest technology, the Board on Geographic Names continues its mission. It serves the Federal Government and the public as a central authority to which name problems, name inquiries, name changes, and new name proposals can be directed. In partnership with Federal, State, and local agencies, the Board provides a conduit through which uniform geographic name usage is applied and current names data are promulgated.

[Summary provided by the USGS.]

Related URL
Link: GET RELATED SERVICE METADATA (SERF)
Description: The National Map is a consistent framework for geographic knowledge needed by the Nation. It provides public access to high-quality, geospatial data and information from multiple partners to help support decision making by resource managers and the public.

Link: GET SERVICE
Description: Search the Geographic Name Information System.
Service Citation
Originators: U.S. Geological Survey
Title: Geographic Names Information System
Provider: U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://geonames.usgs.gov/
ISO Topic Category
BOUNDARIES
ELEVATION
ENVIRONMENT
GEOSCIENTIFIC INFORMATION
IMAGERY/BASE MAPS/EARTH COVER
PLANNING CADASTRE
SOCIETY
Access Constraints
No constraints on access.
Use Constraints
Please credit U.S. Geological Survey as the Service Provider
Service Provider
Geographic Names Information System, Geography Division, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior

Service Provider Personnel
Name: GNIS MANAGER
Phone: (703) 648-4544
Email: gnis_manager at usgs.gov
Contact Address:
U.S. Geological Survey
523 National Center
City: Reston
Province or State: VA
Postal Code: 20192
Country: USA
Distribution Media
Distribution_Media: Online (HTTP)
Distribution_Format: HTML
Fees: None
Personnel
TYLER B. STEVENS
Role: SERF AUTHOR
Phone: (301) 614-6898
Fax: 301-614-5268
Email: Tyler.B.Stevens at nasa.gov
Contact Address:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Global Change Master Directory
City: Greenbelt
Province or State: MD
Postal Code: 20771
Country: USA
Creation and Review Dates
SERF Creation Date:
SERF Last Revision Date: 2011-07-01
Future SERF Review Date: 2003-05-09
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