factlandBefore I put an estimated date in my genealogical database, I ask myself:

how sure am I of this estimate?

Am I using the birth of the first child to estimate the year of birth of the parents? If so, then:

  • How do I know which child was their first child
  • Did they have children with other people before this relationship?
  • Is is possible that there is a significant difference in the age of father and mother?

I always ask myself a second time:

how sure am I of this approximate date?

Estimating dates should be done with care and with a solid reason (it “feels” right applies to clothes, not to genealogical conclusions). That reason should be in your notes for the event, clearly stated along with your source.

Estimate with care because sometimes what began as an estimate crosses into the land of Almighty Fact.

And sometimes when an estimate or assumption crosses into the land of Almighty Fact, there is no going back.




5 Responses

  1. I’m at that crossroad right now I found my great- grandfather first in the 1900 census and the 1910 each give a about born as 1830 one say’s 1835 . My problem came in when I went to look for his parents and found a Kit Martin in a 1870 census as eight years old then I found a Kit in that same 1870 census with his own family and it put him as 40. In the 1880 census I found him as fifty with some of the same children but my grandmother who is his daughter weren’t in either one of those but was in the 1900 census along with another daughter that I know of. In the 1910 he is in there with another wife his age is 72 and there are no children in that household.
    I explain as well as I can now my question is the 1870 and 1880 with him being 40 and 50 are those the right beginnings ? I forgot in that another 1870 census he is the household of his father and mother.

    • Without looking at the enumerations, it sounds as if you are on the right track. I’m assuming that the locations are all consistent and the occupation, places of birth, etc. are consistent as well. It’s not unusual for people to be in other households in one census or another–children could living with grandparents or other relatives, for example.

  2. Thank you for your tips of the day!
    I teach genealogy. Would it be permissible to use one of your tips periodically if full credit is given?

      • Glenda Lloyd is a great genealogy teacher. Sacramento area researchers are lucky to have her share her knowledge with us. You will probably gain many more followers of your tips.

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