Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Board on Geographic Names [BGN]


(Record Group 324)
1881-1986

OVERVIEW OF RECORDS LOCATIONS

Table of Contents

  • 324.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY
  • 324.2 RECORDS OF THE BOARD ON GEOGRAPHIC NAMES 1881-1986
  • 324.3 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)

324.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Established: In the Department of the Interior, as an interagency board, by an act of July 25, 1947 (61 Stat. 456).

Predecessor Agencies:

  • U.S. Board on Geographic Names (1890-1906)
  • U.S. Geographic Board (1906-34)

In the Department of the Interior:

  • Division of Geographic Names (1934-35)
  • Advisory Committee on Geographic Names (1934-35)
  • U.S. Board on Geographic Names (1935-47)

Functions: Standardizes geographic names throughout the Federal Government by making decisions on name conflicts and on proposals for new names, in cooperation with state, local, and foreign governments.

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Board on Geographic Names in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, RG 48.

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324.2 RECORDS OF THE BOARD ON GEOGRAPHIC NAMES
1881-1986

History: U.S. Board on Geographic Names established by E0 27-A, September 4, 1890, with responsibility for deciding cases of disputed geographical nomenclature. Functions expanded by EO 399, January 23, 1906, to include determination, revision, and fixing of geographical names in United States and its insular possessions. Redesignated U.S. Geographic Board (USGB) by EO 493, August 10, 1906, with responsibilities further expanded to include advisory functions regarding preparation of surveys and maps. Survey- and map-related functions transferred to newly established Board of Surveys and Maps by E0 3206, December 30, 1919. USGB abolished by EO 6680, April 17, 1934, with functions transferred to Department of the Interior and assigned to newly established Division of Geographic Names and Advisory Committee on Geographic Names. Division and committee consolidated to form U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) by Department Order 1010, December 10, 1935. USBGN reorganized and redesignated BGN, 1947. SEE 324.1.

Textual Records (in College Park): Correspondence and office files, ca. 1890-1958. Official records, 1890-1973 (bulk 1943-73), of Meredith F. Burrill, Executive Secretary of USBGN (1943-47) and BGN (1947-73), and Director of the Office of Geography in the Interior Department (1948-68). Decision cards for foreign geographic names (including separate set of cards for the Philippine Islands), each card showing approved name, geographic location, date of decision, and alternative names not approved, ca. 1890-1958. Decision case briefs, explaining changes and supplying evidence for names, ca. 1943-58. Pamphlets showing name decisions, issued periodically, 1890-1986. Special publications, including directions for treatment of foreign geographic names and cumulative lists of place-name vocabulary terms, 1934-48. Card file on Mongolian vocabulary terms, n.d. Published gazetteers of foreign countries (Afghanistan to Zanzibar), containing place names with geographic locations, issued by BGN in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Army Map Service, and the Defense Mapping Agency, 1949-86. Published gazetteer of Rhode Island, 1932. Preliminary gazetteers of Hawaii, 1956, and Alaska, 1977. Computer lists of geographic names in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, prepared by the Geological Survey, 1977-78.

Maps (2,171 items): United States, prepared for a USGB report, 1907. Various places, prepared by the Division of Geography chiefly as aids in making nomenclature decisions, 1943-47 (150 items). Annotated place name maps of Alaska and areas within from many sources by the Board on Geographic Names, ca. 1881-1961 (2,021 items).

Related Records: Records of the Federal Board of Surveys and Maps, and successor units in the Bureau of the Budget, in RG 51, Records of the Office of Management and Budget.

Note: Aerial photographs of Antarctica taken during the U.S. Navy's Operation High Jump, 1947-48 (25,000 items), and used by BGN for place-name work, were transferred in April 1986 from the National Archives, where they had been part of RG 324, to the U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA.

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324.3 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)

SEE Maps UNDER 324.2.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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