When You Use an About Date

It is often necessary to approximate the date of a birth, marriage, or death. This is more likely to be the case in those areas that do not have vital records of these events. If you have to approximate the year something took place, have a reason. Include that reason in your database–preferably with some type of source or note included. That could be:

  • The marriage date is estimated to be between 1820 and 1821 for Johann and Antje because their first child was born in 1822.
  • The birth year for Thomas is estimated to be 1800 or before because he was married in 1821 and probably was at least twenty-one when he was married.
  • The death year for Susannah is estimated to be between 1853 and 1860 because the last probate record she signed for her husband was in 1853 and she is not listed in the 1860 census (in that case, indicate where you looked for her in the census and how you looked).

Don’t just put an about year with no justification to back it up. And if you have no justification at all, contemplate whether you really want to include the date in your database.