A Discrepancy Chart

We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth a repeat for those who might not have seen it and for those who need a reminder. Charting out inconsistent information can help you to notice patterns and trends–or just make you a little more organized. ira-discrepancy-chart

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12 thoughts on “A Discrepancy Chart

  1. Ray Jones

    Is this chart available in a blank form?
    If not I can build something similar.
    Looks like a great tool.
    Thanks Ray

    Reply
  2. Cecile Michael

    A good idea which I’ve used. One suggestion: Listing the records in chronological order makes more sense for me.

    Reply
  3. Jill

    Michael, this is a great (and simple) idea about organizing conflicting direct evidence. Nice. I will probably add two additional columns. One for the source (original, derivative or authored work), and the other for assessment of the evidence (direct or indirect or negative). Thanks for sharing this. Jill

    Reply
    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      Thanks, Jill. When I use it in lectures we discuss some ways to improve it and the fact that it is suggestive and not an edict. I just want people to think about ways to organize.

      Reply
  4. Caz Brymora

    We did this with my grandmother’s grandmother, using the birth certificates of all of her children. She listed three different surname and clearly lied about her age (she can’t have been 26 for that many years!). Listing the information in this format really helped to show what was consistent and what was not.

    Funny thing is the only thing that was consistent was where she was born (another state of Australia). 40 years my mother was looking for her. We finally found her origins through DNA testing and she was born in the state where her children were all born!

    Reply
    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      Sometimes it can be really difficult to keep things straight–especially when someone is intentionally altering their age. It’s possible (maybe) she really thought she was born in the location she gave, since she was consistent.

      Reply
  5. Martha Murphy

    Just a thought: Way back when, people didn’t carry driver’s licenses. Many didn’t even have birth certificates. And a lot of families probably didn’t make a big deal of birthdays. So people weren’t always lying when they gave the wrong age — they may have just forgot how old they were! Or maybe they didn’t even know.

    To me, one of the interesting things about history is thinking about how perceptions of the world and even of ourselves have changed as the world has changed.

    This is obvious in the Revolutionary War pension applications. Applicants who were illiterate commonly lost or threw out their discharge papers. Discharge papers and family Bibles were lost in floods or fires. And widows often figured out their approximate marriage dates by thinking about the age of their oldest child.

    There’s an interesting article about the 1752 calendar change at http://libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/hg/colonialresearch/calendar
    “The changeover involved a series of steps:
    “December 31, 1750 was followed by January 1, 1750 (under the “Old Style” calendar, December was the 10th month and January the 11th)
    “March 24, 1750 was followed by March 25, 1751 (March 25 was the first day of the “Old Style” year)
    “December 31, 1751 was followed by January 1, 1752 (the switch from March 25 to January 1 as the first day of the year)
    “September 2, 1752 was followed by September 14, 1752 (drop of 11 days to conform to the Gregorian calendar)”

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