Re: thoughts - opinions

Jeff Marx

There are a number of practical reasons why still-births should be recorded on your family tree.  First, the 1910 U.S. census asked families to indicate how many children the mother had birthed and how many were still living.  If you only knew of two children but the census indicated that there had been another child, no longer living, the fact that you’ve noted the still-born child saves you and future researchers wasted time in hunting down this third, potential relative. Second, still-births can help explain a large gap in birth years between siblings, again saving wasted time in hunting for hypothetical sibling(s) who may not have been recorded.  Third, a still-birth or consecutive still-births may provide a possible answer to the question of why a given couple “didn’t have children.”  Finally, understanding the heartbreak of a still-born birth, even during times when infant mortality was high and “normal,” gives us (just like the sudden death of a husband or wife in a household of young children) a small glimpse into the mostly-hidden personal lives of those who lived long ago.

Jeff Marx

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