The purpose for entering dates and places in a "standardized" fashion is explained in a Help Center document entitled, "Entering standardized dates and places." (Please be aware that Help Center documents and my links to them may change at any time. If you find that a link to a Help Center document no longer works, try going to the Help Center and searching for specific terms or phrases in the document you wish to find).
When you enter dates and places, Family Tree helps you select a standardized date or place. Using standardized dates and places helps clarify the information that you enter. It also helps the system locate people with the Find feature.
Note: FamilySearch recommends you use the name of the place at the time of the event. This matches with sources and facilitates hinting. FamilySearch is working to connect historic names of places with their modern names.In reality, you can enter a non-standard date or place and the program will record it. The problem, as pointed out by the quote, is that unless a date format or place name is standard, the Search function of the Family Tree will have difficulty finding it or using it to find other information. One common problem with using non-standard dates is that the children in a family do not get sorted chronologically. Let's suppose you enter the date as follows:
This date has some problems. First of all is it 1899, 1799 or 1999? In addition, is it April 5th or May 4th? For this reason, the standardized dates now require this format:
5 April 1899
The name of the month should be completely spelled out. If you use an abbreviation for the month, it is too easily confused with the many different languages used by the people using the program around the world.
Now what about places? As the Help Center articles states, we need to be recording the places as they were called at the time the event occurred. I have used this before, but it is still a good example. Here are the changes in place name where my Tanner family originally settled in Arizona:
- Allen's Camp, Yavapai, Arizona Territory, United States
- St. Joseph, Yavapai, Arizona Territory, United States
- St. Joseph, Apache, Arizona Territory, United States
- St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona Territory, United States
- St. Joseph, Navajo, Arizona, United States
The physical location did not change (maybe a little) but the changes in governmental jurisdictions and names are important for locating records about the people during the different times the records were created. Can I enter all these variations, when appropriate? Yes, certainly. There is a detailed explanation of how to do this in the Help Center document. Click here for the full explanation. Here a quote with most of the pertinent information: