What is an Ambulance Service?
An ambulance service facility is a building that houses vehicles and personnel to transport emergency patients and administer emergency medical treatment but does not include ambulances operated by fire departments or hospitals.
If an ambulance is located in a fire station and is operated by fire department personnel, it is considered part of the fire department and not a separate ambulance service for our purposes. However, it is not uncommon for contract, private or non-profit ambulance services to operate out of fire department stations through a government contract or mutual aid agreement. (The fire department’s website usually specifies the relationship between the two entities.) These facilities, which are not operated by the fire department personnel, meet the criteria for ambulance collection.
Both for-profit and non-profit ambulance services may operate out of their own facilities separate from fire departments and are included as ambulance service facilities.
Do we include air ambulance (helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft) locations as Ambulance Service locations?
Where can I find authoritative lists of Ambulance Services?
Ambulance services generally are licensed by counties or by state, so you may find information listed on government websites. State health departments or state emergency management divisions may also may maintain lists of ambulance services.
Check out our Authoritative Sources List for more on the types of sources that are acceptable.
Where do I place an Ambulance Services structure point?
Most ambulance services structures have one building. If this is the case, place the point at the center of the building. If the structure operates out of the same building as a Fire Department and/or Law Enforcement facility, distribute the points on the building so that they are not overlapping.
Stations can generally be recognized in Aerial Imagery or in Google Street View™ because the stations have large bays with overhead doors and large concrete pads outside where the ambulances can park.
For more information on how to identify an ambulance services structure, check out the “Aerial Photo Interpretation Part 6: Ambulance Services” article in our July 2018 Newsletter.
What is a Cemetery?
The Guidelines definition of a cemetery is straightforward -- it includes Cemeteries are defined as places where the dead are buried. The human dead anyway -- pet cemeteries are not included. It addition to the types of features mentioned in the Guidelines, columbariums (a place for the storage of urns containing cremated remains) are also included.
Some small family cemeteries (usually historical) are included in the database, but in general more recent family cemeteries are not included. Single graves also , including graveyards, burial sites, and columbariums. Pet cemeteries are not included.
Single graves within burial sites are generally not included, unless they are the graves of famous historical figures. An example of a single grave for a famous historical figure is the burial marker for Thomas Jefferson (i.e., the Jefferson Tomb) outside of his former Monticello residence.
Where does our Cemetery database originate?
There are two principal sources of cemetery data in the TNMC TNMCorps Structures database: US Geological Survey (USGS) Topographic maps , and the USGenWeb projectUSGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS).
US Geological Survey topographic maps were were produced from about 1879 to 1992 using a combination of aerial photographs and on-the-ground surveys and inventories. In addition to large more-modern cemeteries, many small cemeteries of historical significance were mapped, and these are included in our database. If you are viewing a listed cemetery location in the Aerial Imagery view of the Potlatch editor, and there doesn't seem to be anything visible there, try switching over from aerial imagery to USGS Topos, and then you often will see the notation of a cemetery on the topographic map.
Additional cemetery locations were submitted to the database by the
The GNIS has cemetery information built over time from a variety of sources. One example of this is the USGenWeb Project. This volunteer project, started in 1996, fosters Internet serves as a repository of internet resources for genealogical research in every county and every state of in the United Statescountry.
Because many historical cemeteries have been carefully documented and included in the database, please do not remove cemeteries from the database simply because they are not visible in aerial imagery. Only remove cemeteries if the imagery shows without a doubt that the landscape has been altered (for example, a shopping center now exists where the cemetery used to be), or if you have local or on-the-ground knowledge that the cemetery has been moved or destroyed.
Where should I place a cemetery structure point?
The general rule is to locate the cemetery structure point at the centroid of the cemetery area. A single point should be placed even if a cemetery has a combination of facilities (graves, mauseleums, columbariums).
Some columbarium-only facilities are located in church buildings, although their presence may be difficult to ascertain or validate; they should be represented by a point at the center of the church structureor that the graves have been disinterred.
What are authoritative sources of information about cemetery locations?There are is no single complete authoritative sources source of information about cemeteries, but there are many internet resources that together can provide a fairly complete list of cemeteries:
Many cemeteries are located in rural areas where county and state roads do not have precise mailing addresses. You can attempt to find an address through reverse geocoding in Google Maps™ Classic:
Check out our Authoritative Sources List for more on the types of sources that are acceptable.
Where do I place a cemetery structure point?
The general rule is to place the cemetery structure point at the center of the burial grounds. A single point should be placed even if a cemetery has a combination of facilities (e.g., graves, mausoleums, columbariums).
Some columbarium-only facilities are located in church buildings, although their presence may be difficult to ascertain or validate; they should be represented by a point at the center of the church structure.
For more information on how to identify a cemetery, check out the “Aerial Photo Interpretation Part 1: Cemeteries” article in our September 2017 Newsletter.
What Address should be given for rural cemeteries?
Many cemeteries do not have addresses, therefore, addresses are not required for cemetery points. In cases where no numbered street address seems to be assigned:
Check out this Q&A for more on cemetery addresses.
Why do we collect information about cemeteries?
Perhaps the The original reason we started collecting information about cemeteries is that they were prominent feature types shown on USGS topographic maps. But another reason is that there are many people that are interested in history and genealogy and find this information useful. One of our volunteers says:
"...as a lifelong genealogist, I have been frustrated with the gap between local information about cemeteries and what is easily available in a consistent, reliable, national format. I have benefited from hundreds of thousands of hours of work by others and this is the way I am giving back."
What is a Post Office?
There are quite a few types of Location Types you can choose from, but the USGS guidelines stipulate that only official USPS facilities should be included in the National Structures dataset: this translates to the Post office, Village Post office, and Contract Postal Units location types. To do a search for these three types, select “Post Offices and Approved Postal Providers” from the Location Types list and then click on the Refine search link, and then make sure that only Post Offices, Village Post offices, and Contract Postal Units are checked.
This restricted definition means that many locations that sell stamps or have only automated postal centers or only participate in the PO Box Online program, such as markets, banks, and office and mailing supply stores, do not qualify as Post Offices for the National Structures dataset.
Naming Post Offices:
The guidelines stipulate that the correct way to name a post office is: <name> Post Office, for example “Pueblo Post Office”. Also, to naming the Contract Postal Unit, the correct way is: Name+Contract Postal Unit or Name+CPU. The name is the name that is shown in the USPS website. Occasionally, you will see a Post Office on the USPS website that has a name like “Westminster (Harris Park)”; in this case, name the post office as: "Westminster Post Office Harris Park Station”. .
Editing/Reviewing Post Offices for a city or county:
You might want to review all of the Post Offices for a city or county. To do this, go to the USPS Find Locations web page; restrict the search to Post Offices and Village Post Offices, and Contract Postal Units; type in the city of interest; and select a reasonable search radius. Then go through all of the locations and make sure they are in the Structures database. If you are working on a county, then successively type in the names of various cities in that county with a reasonable search radius for each so that when each of your search results are combined you get complete results for the whole county. NOTE: there is a USPS web page for searching for Post Offices within a county, but this search uses an out-of-date-database, so it is recommended not to rely on this county search.