Re: Different birthdates #general

Marion Werle

I would recommend reading Christine Rose's book, Genealogical Proof
Standard: Building a Solid Case/ 4th ed. San Jose: CR Publications,
2014. It is a very readable book on the Genealogical Proof Standard
and evidence evaluation, two methodology topics that are critical to
evaluating genealogical records with conflicting data. Records can be
primary, derivative and authored; the information on them can be
primary, secondary and unknown; and evidence can be direct, indirect
and negative.

In your case, we don't know who provided the age information on the
census records (not to mention that the informant may not have known or
people sometimes lie). I've also seen mistakes on draft registration
records that conflict with date on the birth record. Since the birth
record is the official record provided at the time of the event (the
birth) by people who witnessed (or were present at the time of) the
event, I'd take that as more reliable than a census record or draft
record. Since you aren't cognizant at your own birth, you only know
your birth date because someone told you or because you saw your
birth certificate. Birthdays weren't a big deal to our ancestors and
it's not uncommon for them to supply different birthdates than show
on their actual birth record, which they may never have seen.

Marion Werle
Los Angeles

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