Different birthdates #general


Joan
 

Hi,

Here is my dilemma....I have started to search for information on my
maternal grandmothers' side since she is one of 11 children. One of my
great uncles, Israel F. Goldberg was killed in action in WWI body never
recovered. I thought I had finally found his birth certificate, however,
it came back 4 years off. According to the 1892, 1900, 1910 federal
census, and 1905 NY census, and his draft card he was born in 1888.
However his birth certificate states January 1892 and is stamped
February 1892. I do believe this is his certificate because of his
mother and father's name, father's occupation and the street they were
living on at the time are all correct. I realize that being one of 11,
although he was one of 7 at the time, and so long ago, people couldn't
remember when they were born but this has happened frequently with this
large family.

Which birthdate should I use? Unfortunately, another of his siblings died
young (15), 2 never married, 2 married and only had 2 children, 2 never had
children and 1 got lost somewhere - can't find him anywhere. All of these
siblings also have mixed birthdates and ages.

Joan Silverman
Searching: GOLDBERG, SCHWARTZ, SILVERMAN


A. E. Jordan
 

Have you tried looking at the 1890 NY Police Census? NY City was
convinced it was under countered in the 1890 Census so they
dispatched the police to do a recount. It is less detailed and
required you to have the street address there were living at but it
will show names and reported ages. Or if they are in Brooklyn the
family should be in the 1892 NY State census but that did not
include Manhattan or the Bronx (if I recall correctly).

For the Police Census you still have to go to the microfilms
because Ancestry only has a tiny fraction online and never went
back to add more.

You have to research the address they were living at and then
reverse the address into the Census to see who was living there ...
hopefully including your family members. You can get addresses
from things like birth certificates and marriage licenses and maybe
a City Directory or I even had some luck using voter roles.

Allan Jordan

-----Original Message-----
From: Joan Beth Silverman

According to the 1892, 1900, 1910 federal
census, and 1905 NY census, and his draft card he was born in 1888.
However his birth certificate states January 1892 and is stamped
February 1892.


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
<werleme@gmail.com>


Lesley K. Cafarelli
 

Joan Silverman wrote:

"Here is my dilemma . . . One of my great uncles, Israel F. Goldberg was
killed in action in WWI body never recovered. I thought I had finally found
his birth certificate, however, it came back 4 years off. According to the
1892, 1900, 1910 federal census, and 1905 NY census, and his draft card he
was born in 1888. However his birth certificate states January 1892 and is
stamped February 1892. I do believe this is his certificate because of his
mother and father's name, father's occupation and the street they were
living on at the time are all correct. I realize that being one of 11,
although he was one of 7 at the time, and so long ago, people couldn't
remember when they were born but this has happened frequently with this
large family. Which birthdate should I use?"

The issue of different and even widely disparate birth dates is very common
in genealogical research. This is a good example of how careful evaluation
will help you resolve conflicting evidence. Not all sources of evidence are
equal, and in this case I would take the birth certificate to be most
accurate, given that his parents' names, father's occupation, and residence
are confirmed by other sources, and 1892 is not so far removed >from the
dates on the other sources to be unlikely. Important factors to consider
include the proximity to the event being recorded, in this case the birth,
the informant, and whether the informant was likely to be an eye witness
and, unlike the infant, cognizant of the date.

Elizabeth Shown Mills is the leading professional in the area of evidence
evaluation and has a wonderful website with lots of free information and a
link to purchasing her books and QuickSheets at www.evidenceexplained.com.
There is also a discussion forum that you can register for on the site to
learn more and ask questions.

Lesley K. Cafarelli
Minneapolis, MN, USA


Shelley Mitchell
 

Joan Silverman asked "which birthdate should I use."

In all my years of doing research on my family, I have discovered that the
census birth years are often wrong. If the person was under the age of 17 and
traveling alone, they often added to their years to be eligible to travel alone.
It's the same with enlistment records. Many men wanted to seem old enough to
enlist.

For women, it was often the opposite. All my great aunts seem to have grown
younger with each marriage. I've even seen headstones with a different date.

If you have a birth certificate, I would go with that date. I'm pretty sure most
Jews knew when they was born. But if they went by the Jewish calendar, they may
not know the corresponding Julian calendar date. So it only seems that they
don't know when they were born. They may not know the date on our calendar.

Shelley Mitchell
searching KONIGSBERG/KINIGSBERG, TERNER, MOLDAUER, GOLDSCHEIN, TOPF,
MICHALOWSKY, KREISMANN, and UMINSKY.


Rose Feldman <rosef@...>
 

I only discovered my mother had added 2 years to her age when she was
70+. She had traveled alone >from Palestine to the US in 1922. She
would have been 16 and changed things so she was 18. Since her
document was in Turkish in Arabic script, I doubt if anyone in
Providence Rhode Island could read it.

We were standing at her sister's grave site for the memorial prayers
when my mother said, don't put the year of birth on my tombstone. My
parents had a plot reserved near by. I asked why, and she answered -
how would it look if two sisters had the same year of birth. Now since
both were married, and their maiden name was common, only the family
knows the sisters are buried near each other.

She went through her whole life with the wrong year of birth.

Rose Feldman
Israel Genealogy Research Association
http://genealogy.org.il
http:/facebook.com/israelgenealogy

Keep up to date on archives, databases and genealogy in general and
Jewish and Israeli roots in particular with
http://twitter.com/JewDataGenGirl


Diane Jacobs
 

I have also seen on the jewishgen.org database records where three children
of the same parents are registered in the same year because the parents
didn't register the first two when they were born and did so when the third
child was born. Many times birth were registered years after the event.

Diane Jacobs
Somerset, NJ

Marion E Werle werleme@gmail.com wrote:

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.


Joan
 

I would like to thank everyone again who responded to my query and for the
advise.

Joan Silverman
Researching: Goldberg, Schwartz, Silverman, Zalka (Dzailka)


Mel Comisarow
 

Shelley Mitchell commented on male/female ages in historical records:
Many men wanted to seem old enough to enlist. For women, it was often the
opposite. All my great aunts seem to have grown younger with each marriage.
Well young females wanted to be older. My paternal, paternal great grandmother
was probably 14 when the 1858 Russian census recorded her age as 18; 18 to 20
being the "perfect" age for females both then and now. On the other hand, maybe
her 20-year-old husband didn't want to look like a pedophile and so he was the
one who bumped up his wife's age.

Mel Comisarow
Vancouver BC

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A. E. Jordan
 

From: Rose Feldman:
"...when my mother said, don't put the year of birth on my tombstone. My
parents had a plot reserved near by. I asked why, and she answered -
how would it look if two sisters had the same year of birth..."

Generally my rule of thumb is to use the dates/ages that come >from the
earliest documents like births or census when they were infants. Parents
had less motivation to change the date of a 2 or 4 year old on the
census versus by the time they got to 15 and also could not remember
exactly when the child was born. But in general the census is not a
very reliable source of age.

Women also had a amazing talent of aging only 5 or 7 years between 10
year census intervals! I can not tell you how many times I have seen
that happen as you follow the paper trail ... even when the husband
ages a full 10 years.

Then to match Rose's story above .... one of my cousins told me how at
her mother's funeral one of my great aunts took her aside and told he
"Your mother was older than she said. You need to take two years off
her birth date because otherwise it will mess up with her sisters when
they die and are buried next to her." All the sisters had been deducing
two or three or four years I found on their records .... but I did not
have the heart to tell the cousin who was telling me this that her mother
according to the birth certificate I had found was still two years older
... the woman had cut a total of four off her age and the sisters only
told her about two of the years!

Allan Jordan


Eva Lawrence
 

Different dates of birth on different documents can also be due to a child
being conceived or born previous to a marriage, at a time when this was a
cause for malicious scandal or even ostracisation.

I've come across a case in England where years of age on a census form were
hastily corrected to months, and the person in question was always evasive
about their date of birth, which had been registered twice, once at the
actual place of birth and again later when the marriage had taken place.
This of course was mostly likely to apply to an eldest child.

We may not like it, but our ancestors weren't always paragons.

Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.