United States Board on Geographic Names

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States Board on Geographic Names logo.png

The United States Board on Geographic Names (abbreviated BGN ; German  Committee for Geographic Names of the United States ) is a US federal agency whose task it is to bring about and ensure the uniform use of geographical names in the area of ​​the US government and administration. The institution is based in Reston, Virginia , and the commission is headed by Douglas Caldwell.


The agency was founded in 1890 as the Board on Geographical Names and has been renamed several times since then. In 1934 she was assigned to the Ministry of the Interior . Its current form is based on a 1947 law.

The agency has developed rules and procedures for dealing with both native and non-US geographic names. She also deals with submarine objects as well as those in Antarctica .

In general, the BGN follows local usage when stipulating the use of names at the federal level. Only in individual cases, for example if a locally used name can be regarded as clearly offensive, can it decide against the use of such a name at the federal level.

One of the main tasks of the BGN is to make formal decisions, at the request of individuals and private or public institutions, about new, changed and conflicting geographical names and their spelling and usage in maps and other publications of the US federal institutions. In addition to its official role as a decision-maker for government and administration, it takes on the same role for the general population.

Geographic Names Information System

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) developed by the BGN in collaboration with the US Geological Survey takes on both names from topographic maps and bibliographic references. The titles of the books and historical maps that confirm a geographical object or name are listed. Name variants or alternatives to the official names for an object are also included. In 2014, GNIS contained approximately 2.72 million names for 2.26 million geographic objects in the United States.

BGN / PCGN transcription

As part of its task of defining the US official spelling of foreign geographical names, the BGN Foreign Names Committee (FNC) is also working with the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN) to standardize a system for transcription (spelling) or Transcription of geographical names from other writing systems into the Latin script , namely the BGN / PCGN transcription . The name transcriptions are used in the GEOnet Names Server , a database of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which in 2014 contained around 9.8 million names for 6 million geographical entries.


The BGN currently publishes names on its website. In the past, the BGN made its decisions known in different publications under different titles at different time intervals with different amounts of information. In 1933, the BGN published an extensive consolidated compilation of all of its decisions for the period 1890-1932 in its Sixth Report of the United States Geographic Board 1890-1932 . For many years, the BGN published a quarterly report entitled Decisions on Geographic Names .

US organizations with related tasks


  • US Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey, National Mapping Division, Digital Gazetteer: Users Manual, (Reston, Virginia: US Geological Survey, 1994).
  • Report: "Countries, Dependencies, Areas Of Special Sovereignty, And Their Principal Administrative Divisions," Federal Information Processing Standards, FIPS 10-4.
  • Report: Principles, Policies, and Procedures: Domestic Geographic Names, US Board of Geographic Names, 1997.
  • US Postal Service Publication November 28 , 2000.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ US Board on Geographic Names - Homepage. US Department of the Interior, February 9, 2009; accessed February 28, 2009 .
  2. ^ A b c d e f Mary Topping (comp.): Approved Place Names in Virginia: An Index to Virginia Names Approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names through 1969, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville 1971, ISBN 978-0813903859 , p. v-vi
  3. Donald J. Orth and Roger L. Payne: Principles, Policies, and Procedures (PDF; 190 kB) United States Board on Geographic Names and Domestic Geographic Names. 2003. Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved July 7, 2009. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / geonames.usgs.gov
  4. United States Board on Geographic Names: Decisions on Geographic Names in the United States , 1969: “[Names are] submitted for decisions to the Board on Geographical names by individuals, private organizations, or government agencies. It is the board's responsibility to render formal decisions on new names, proposed changes in names, and names which are in conflict. [The decisions] define the spellings and applications of the names for use on maps and other publications of Federal agencies. "
  5. ^ A b Annual Report To the Secretary of the Interior, Fiscal Year 2014 . United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  6. ^ Publication 28 - Postal Addressing Standards. (PDF; 813 kB) United States Postal Service, January 2013, accessed on October 20, 2013 (English). Here prepared as an HTML version