In the ESRI news feed today, an article out of Geospatial Solutions on preserving place names, including native language versions. While the article deals with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, there are numerous towns in South Jersey that have disappeared back into the Pines, the only record of which is a few stone foundations and their names on USGS quad maps. The place names used on the quad maps are from GNIS, a program of the Board on Geographic Names. Many of these “forgotten towns” where rediscovered by Henry Charlton Beck in the 1930s and compiled into an aptly named book, “Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey.” The irony is that because of their inclusion in GNIS, these long-abandoned places are in Google Maps. It is somewhat funny that Web 2.0 can find you directions from Hampton Furnace to Harrisville, two uninhabited places in the Pine Barrens. However, not all of the places in GNIS made it to Google; for instance, they left out Hog Wallow. I guess the map label reflects the bogs and not the settlement and was omitted.
Just another reminder of the breadth of social sciences in which GIS plays some role. History and archeology are often overlooked when thinking or discussing GIS.
(Update: fixed broken link. Thanks Eric!)