Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Something so simple

Let’s say you are looking at a census record, an obituary, or anything that might record someone’s age as opposed to their date of birth.  For example,

1850 US Federal Census, Columbia County, Georgia
Mortimer Snerd, male, age 48, farmer, born in Georgia

How would you record Mortimer’s date of birth?  Most people would simply put “About 1802” but is that the most accurate way to record it?

If Mortimer was born before the census date then he was born in 1802.  If he was born after the census date then he was born in 1801.  A more accurate way of recording his date of birth is 1801-1802. 

This is one of those OCD things.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. I use a range based on the date of the census. However, I use the NOTES area to keep track of each of the birth dates I find from various records. Since the 1850 census was conducted on 1 June 1850, I would say the 48 year old Mortimer Snerd was born between 2 June 1801 and June 1 1802. As I collect more data, I then add those date ranges to the list. Hopefully I can determine the actual date. Most times all I can do is narrow down the range. I know a lot of people like to use ALT BIRTH for all of the various dates from different records. I like a cleaner look, so only use one BIRTH event.

    1. Lisa,
      Watch out for today's post (Friday) because I address this issue and one other. A couple of other people wrote in :)