The online tree indicated the person of interest was born on a specific date in 1865 in a specific German village. To that point, my research had only uncovered a birth somewhere in Germany sometime in 1865. I was curious about the specific details and the source behind them.

The “source” was the 1880 census. Now the 1880 census did suggest the person of interest was born in 1865 or 1864. The 1880 census did state the person was born in Germany. However, that census enumeration did not give the precise date or place of birth. The census was consistent with that specific information, but was not that specific itself.

The census should not have been used for a source of the specific date and precise place for the German birth. The census should have been cited for what it actually said–born 1864 or 1865 in Germany. I realize that means in most genealogy databases that requires created a different date of birth and place of birth. That’s because it’s what the census says.

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One response

  1. This is a particular problem with websites which attempt to connect you with others . via German ancestors. The ownership of areas of land could pass from one noble family to another in less than a generation, so that the location might change Bavaria to Hessen, say, between one birth and the next. Standardising place-names is time-consuming and subject to error, and always sounds stilted.

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