Friday, June 12, 2015

Follow-up to Something so simple

Two people contacted me with some thoughts about my Something so simple post that I wanted to address.

From Kathy,

“And an even more accurate way of recording it would be to record it as Between June 1801 and May 1802 (change month as appropriate depending on which census it is (UK ones happened in different months in different years)”

The reason I didn't suggest this is then you get into the whole debate between looking at the official census date and the date the numerator put at the top of the page. These two dates are rarely the same.  However, whether the census official census date was 01 June vs. the actual enumeration date of 15 September, my method still works.


From Bob,

“This assumes the person's age was recorded accurately. You are right if the age is right, but I think that "about" is better on the basis that the age is not necessarily (and most probably not) accurate.”

Sometimes you have to make some base assumptions and then adjust as you get more information in. For example, I assume that children are born within the confines of their parents' marriage. I assume that the parents actually are the parents. I assume that the information on a census record is correct until I have conflicting evidence at which time I will reconcile the conflicting evidence.

With census records specifically I can adjust the date range to incorporate all of the census records I have. You do this all the time when you are working with the 1800-1840 census. (1790 doesn't give a tight date range so it isn't as helpful). When you correlate the date ranges you come up with across several census records you can narrow the date of birth quite a bit, again, you assume that the information is correct until other evidence comes in that conflicts and then you have to address it.

There are many variables to consider and you always have to keep these scenarios in the back of your mind but you have to start somewhere.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis


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