You Might Not Get a Date

This is not a tip about dating advice.

It’s a reminder that in some locations and time periods, there simply are no records of specific dates of vital events. This can often be the case with births and deaths even when marriage records are available. While a marriage is considered a “vital event” by many, it technically is a contract between the two individuals getting married. For that reason, there may be records of marriages when birth and death records are not extant.

The American South before the Civil War is one location and time period where it can be difficult to obtain precise dates of birth and death. The best that can be done is to have an estimate of when the person was born and when the person died. The key is to also try and establish the familial relationships that person had with their parents, their spouse(s), and their children. You may just never know what date the person was born on in 1670. Accept this and focus on what you can discover while keeping abreast of new records that are discovered or become available.

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