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Domestic Names

The BGN's Domestic Names Committee provides information relating to domestic names; new name and name change proposals; the principles and policies by which it reviews name proposals; past and pending cases; and meeting agenda. 

Important Update

In response to the Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3404 - Declaring "Squaw" a Derogatory Term and Implementing Procedures to Remove the Term from Federal Usage, and Secretarial Order 3405 - Addressing Derogatory Geographic Names, the BGN’s consideration of certain geographic name changes is being amended. 

For S.O. 3404, a list of all official feature names that include the word "Sq__", as recorded in the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), is available at:  Geographic Names Information System (nationalmap.gov); see All Official Sq_ names.  Please note that a small number of names on this list are outside the purview of the BGN but are considered official for Federal use. More information is available in the Derogatory Geographic Names FAQs.

User Notice:

The Domestic Names Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) has been redesigned and is available.  Users can search and retrieve records, view the location(s) on various base maps, and also link to a more detailed summary page.  The search results can also be downloaded.  Help documentation has also been posted at the GNIS page.  

Users can access the previous GNIS data, current as of August 25, 2021, by downloading one of the National, State or topical text files available at Download GNIS Data.  These files do contain administrative names data.

Downloadable Files:

The location of GNIS download files will eventually be moved to ScienceBase and users can choose to download the text files we continue to create as well as a new geodatabase file that can be used with ArcMap. Until we move to ScienceBase, users will be able to download the text files from the BGN website.

Data Content:

Since GNIS staff has been unable to maintain Domestic administrative names for quite some time (since October 1, 2014), these records will be archived from GNIS database and will longer be available through the GNIS search application. The following feature classes will be archived: Airport, Bridge, Building, Cemetery, Church, Dam, Forest, Harbor, Hospital, Mine, Oilfield, Park, Post Office, Reserve, School, Tower, Trail, Tunnel, and Well. 

Natural features, populated places, canals, and reservoirs remain under the purview of the Board on Geographic Names and the Civil, Census, and Military features will also be maintained via an agreement between the Census Bureau and USGS. These remaining feature types will continue to be maintained and distributed through the GNIS search application and the bi-monthly distribution files.

The administrative names data will be archived into separate files that can be downloaded from ScienceBase. We will no longer update the file once records are archived. All the information pertaining to the records will be available for download in the same format we use for the other text files. We will create a main names file, in the same format as the National file and an AllNames file (includes official and variant names).

Some administrative names are managed by other data themes of The National Map and are available for download from The National Map at (https://apps.nationalmap.gov/viewer Click Data Download).

For all new proposals, please use the pdf proposal form. If you have questions, please send them to BGNEXEC@usgs.gov.

About GNIS:

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is the Federal and national standard for geographic nomenclature. The U.S. Geological Survey's National Geospatial Program developed the GNIS in support of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names as the official repository of domestic geographic names data, the official vehicle for geographic names use by all departments of the Federal Government, and the source for applying geographic names to Federal electronic and printed products.

The GNIS contains information about physical geographic features of many types in the United States, associated areas, and Antarctica, current and historical, but not including roads and highways or cultural features. The database holds the Federally recognized name of each feature and defines the feature location by state, county, USGS topographic map, and geographic coordinates. Other attributes include names or spellings other than the official name, feature designations, feature classification, historical and descriptive information.

The GNIS Feature ID, Official Feature Name, and Official Feature Location are American National Standards Institute standards as specified in ANSI INCITS 446-2008 (Identifying Attributes for Named Physical and Cultural Geographic Features (Except Roads and Highways) of the United States, Its Territories, Outlying Areas, and Freely Associated Areas, and the Waters of the Same to the Limit of the Twelve-Mile Statutory Zone). The standard is available at the ANSI Web Store.