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A Problem with Dates #general


Don Einbinder <donjein@...>
 

Not knowing much about my mgf, Harry BARASCH, I went to the National
Archives in Pittsfield, MA. There, in the Brooklyn, NY census of 1920,
I found the family and all the information listed alongside. It said
that he arrived in the US in 1909, and the rest of the family in1911.
While there, I found the petition numbers for his naturalization and
that of an aunt and uncle. I then sent for the papers and they arrived
today.

The petition says that he arrived in 1907, and an attached certificate
from the bureau of naturalization confirms 1907. Other dates on the
petition, such as children's birthdates, are wrong.

So, what do I believe, the census or the petition?

Don Einbinder
Tamarac, FL

Researching: EINBINDER, BARASCH, OSCHER, SCHNEIDER/SCHNEIDERMAN


Art Hoffman <arthh@...>
 

"Don Einbinder" <donjein@mediaone.net> wrote in message
news:39EE5324.3280B5C6@mediaone.net...
Not knowing much about my mgf, Harry BARASCH, I went to the National
Archives in Pittsfield, MA. There, in the Brooklyn, NY census of
1920, I found the family and all the information listed alongside.
It said that he arrived in the US in 1909, and the rest of the family
in1911. While there, I found the petition numbers for his
naturalization and that of an aunt and uncle. I then sent for the
papers and they arrived today.

The petition says that he arrived in 1907, and an attached certificate
from the bureau of naturalization confirms 1907. Other dates on the
petition, such as children's birthdates, are wrong.
Frequently parents in those days added years to their children's real
age so that the children could get working permits sooner. I know that
was true for my father who was 10 in 1906 when he arrived in the US,
according to the ship manifest. When my grandfather filed a Declaration
of Intention in 1909, my father's age became 16 which I believe was the
minimum age for working papers at that time.


So, what do I believe, the census or the petition?
Both the census and the petition are what are called secondary
documents. There is no verification of the accuracy of census
information. It may very well have been given to the census taker by a
neighbor if your parents were not home when the census taker knocked on
their door. The petition's accuracy as to ages of children would have
depended upon who completed the Petition. There was no verification of
age by comparison to a birth certificate. So, believe whichever one you
want unless you have primary documents such as birth certificates
available.


Judith Romney Wegner
 

I'm sure you'll get many responses on this one < g >.
>Generally, go with "primary souces" first, because they have information
provided
directly by the person.
[snip]
Of course, primary sources are no guarantee of accuracy either.

[Sigh!] Ain't it the truth!! My pgf Mark MARKS was born in Auckland, NZ
on Feb 8, 1864 -- I have a photocopy of his birth notice in an Auckland
newspaper on February 9! Yet the entry in the Auckland birth register (of
which I also have a photocopy, signed by my ggf John MARKS, who supplied
the information) says he was born on February 15! My ggf did not report
the birth until March 20, so maybe he counted backwards on his fingers and
miscalculated -- or maybe he chose to fake the date in order to comply with
rules about how soon births must be registered and to avoid paying a fine!


This propensity to misstate dates must be in the genes! It turns out that
my pgf's sister (born in Auckland in 1865) misstated her age (as did her
boyfriend) when they got married in London 20 years later. They both
pretended to be 21 (the age of majority back then), whereas their birth
certificates make clear that she was 20 and he only 19 on the date stated
on the marriage certificate! ( I assume they must have done this because
they ran off to the registry and got married without their parent's
knowledge and/or consent).

So inaccuracies are not due solely to innocent errors -- they are
sometimes clearly intentional. It makes me wonder how many other dates on
my collection of certificates are likewise incorrect. Come to think of
it, how do I even KNOW I was born on March 8, 1933? How do any of us
know ?

Judith Romney Wegner


Hilary Henkin <propper@...>
 

I'm sure you'll get many responses on this one < g >.

Go with the naturalization papers for accuracy, compared to the census. The census
was completed by a census taker going house-to-house. The person who provided the
information on your family could've been a neighbor or relative instead of the
person.

Generally, go with "primary souces" first, because they have information provided
directly by the person. "Secondary sources" contain information provided by someone
*about* that person. So SS-5s are great, because they were completed by the person
themselves. Ditto for marriage certificates, birth certificates, naturalization
papers, etc.
Death certificates and census are less reliable, because the information
was/could've-been provided by someone other than the subject.

Of course, primary sources are no guarantee of accuracy either. I have the
naturalization papers for both a husband and wife, around 1935-1940. They don't
agree on the birth dates of their own children in 1919 and 1927! Ah, well....

Good luck!

Hilary Henkin
Atlanta, Georgia


ROBERT WEISS
 

In a message dated 10/20/00 10:12:47 PM, Judith Romney Wagner writes:

<< Come to think of it, how do I even KNOW I was born on March 8, 1933? >>

Good point. Our daughter has two birth records with birth dates differing by
1 year. She was born in 1970, but the certifying doctor erroneously wrote
1969 on the record that was filed with the County Health Department, and sent
on to the State capitol in Sacramento. When I discovered the error I had the
County record corrected to read 1970, but there is no mechanism for the
County to have the State record changed. Only I can do that, and I must pay
for the change. And I won't pay to correct the error made by the State. So
my daughter can chose where she gets her certified birth record, and thereby
when she was born.

Bob Weiss in Northridge, CA
RWeissJGS@aol.com