Help on the Histopolis Place Hierarchy

The 350,000 places on Histopolis are arranged in a hierarchy. While understanding this hierarchy is not necessary to use Histopolis, it may help you to understand and use the site more effectively; besides, you might find it interesting.

Countries, States, Counties & Townships

The United States is subdivided into states. Each state is further subdivided into counties, parishes or boroughs. In many states, counties are further subdivided into townships, districts or towns. While this pattern of successive subdivision generally applies, the names and types of administrative divisions (subdivisions) vary by country, state or even county. Additionally there are many variations and exceptions to the rule regarding administrative divisions.

At a given level in the hierarchy, these administrative divisions are non-overlapping (no county overlaps another county) and generally completely cover the next higher level jurisdiction (every point in a state is also within some county, with the exception of independent cities).

Histopolis knows the borders of these administrative divisions and will draw the relevant borders on the map for a place.


Incorporated Cities

Incorporated cities (cities with boundaries or "city-limits") may lie within a township or county but can also appear directly within a state (independent cities) or can span several counties or other jurisdictions.

Some "cities" are actually more like townships in other states and may contain other incorporated cities.

Histopolis knows the border of incorporated cities and will draw them as appropriate on the map for a place.

Independent Cities

Independent cities are cities which exist outside of the jurisdiction of any county. In some ways independent cities are equivalent to counties in the hierarchy. Only a few states have independent cities.

Unincorporated Cities

Unincorporated cities are essentially just a point on the map to Histopolis and since they have no boundary or area, they can not contain anything (you can be near or at an unincorporated place, but not in it). An unincorporated place within an incorporated city is considered a neighborhood.


In its simplest form, a cemetery is a point on a map, appears within a county, state and country and may appear within a city and/or township. Sometimes a cemetery is known to be located within a specific county but the coordinates are unknown.

Some cemeteries on Histopolis also have a boundary defined, which allows cemeteries, like incorporated cities, to span multiple counties or other jurisdictions (and some do). There are currently two sources of cemetery borders: the US Census Bureau and Histopolis staff. Cemetery borders added by staff are based on analysis of the satellite imagery and other sources, and as such, are subjective. Please provide feedback to the webmaster if you believe a cemetery border is incorrect.

Cemetery borders can:

  • Allow researchers to better understand the extent of the cemetery,
  • Enable Histopolis to discover potential duplicate cemeteries (their areas overlap)
  • Enable Histopolis to associate a cemetery with multiple jurisdictions (multiple townships or counties) where appropriate.
  • Enable Histopolis to optimally position and zoom the cemetery on the map.

Histopolis has recently implemented subdivisions of cemeteries (often called sections) as well as cemeteries contained within other cemeteries.


Except for countries, each Histopolis place is contained within a hierarchy of other places. For example, Fairview Cemetery is located in Fairview Precinct of Sarpy County, Nebraska, United States.

The place page for each place that has a border (has area) will contain a list of the places in the next lower administrative division. The United States page contains a list of states. The Nebraska page contains a list of counties, and so on. In addition to providing a list of the next lower administrative division, place pages also contain lists of cities and cemeteries within them. The lists of cities and cemeteries for states are on separate pages due to their large size.

As mentioned above, incorporated cities and cemeteries with borders can overlap several jurisdictions (such a city that has area in more than one township or county). Histopolis recognizes this situation and will list the percentage of the area that appears in each jurisdictions. Additionally, that place will appear in the list of cities (or cemeteries) for each of the jurisdictions that it crosses.

Although cities can cross several counties, technically they cannot cross state borders since cities are incorporated by the states. While cities with the same name may appear on both sides of a state line, they are separate legal entities and separate cities.

See Kansas City and New York City for interesting and extreme cases of cities that span multiple counties and county subdivisions.


In general, to navigate to a specific place you navigate to the country page, select a state from the list, select a county on the state page, etc.

The top of each place page contains a list of links to the places above it in the hierarchy. To navigate to a place higher in the hierarchy, just click on the link.

Place Navigation Bar

The Place Navigation Bar appears just below the site on most Histopolis pages and provides a quick and easy way to navigate to any of the the 350,000 places on the site. See "Help for the Place Navigation Bar" to learn more about this feature.