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Old 02-11-2014, 08:27 AM
 
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I have found a variety of birthday's for my grandparents and their children. Months and days change, the year is within 1-2 years. Sources are census, declaration papers, birth registry cards, even my grandparent's marriage certificate. What we thought was my dad's birthday has been shown as one or two of his siblings.
My Uncle mentioned they never celebrated birthday's and they each just picked one as they hit adulthood and needed it for their own records. We always thought a grandchild has been born on dad's birthday, looks like it's not true but his sibling was born on my grandmother's birthday(maybe)


Problem is how to record this for genealogy programs. Should I just put date and source in notes?
It's making it difficult to find information on my Great Uncles and their families or my father's siblings who didn't stay in touch. Everyone is deceased now so no one to ask if Uncle Sid married Sue or Anna in 1914 ?
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Way South of the Volvo Line
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I have had to just record an accepted date but keep several source documents because of discrepancies in census, birth records. My mother's birth date is recorded as 1921 but I found documents that indicated that her father died in 1919. She also had young siblings that died before she was born that she never knew about. Her mother died shortly after her birth and apparently had a different address from the rest of the family---I assumed because of the respiratory (TB?) illness she had.
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:51 PM
 
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if you did not have a driver license or any form of paperwork that had your birthday on, would you remember what day it was, if nobody told you
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmom View Post
I have found a variety of birthday's for my grandparents and their children. Months and days change, the year is within 1-2 years. Sources are census, declaration papers, birth registry cards, even my grandparent's marriage certificate. What we thought was my dad's birthday has been shown as one or two of his siblings.
Census records are not very accurate for birth dates - well, they're not very accurate for most of the data on them. You have to keep in mind that censuses are taken for demographic purposes, not for identification, so a lot of the personal details on them are not of the highest priority of getting exactly right. You also have to take into account who might have been supplying the information and the fact that a stranger was the one recording it - there is a lot of room for error. Plus, on many of the censuses, they often are actually only recording an age, and the birth year is calculated from their age so it's very common for the year to vary by one or two years. Even the censuses which record the birth year and month instead of just age are often wrong, for the above reasons.

So census records should not be used as a source for an exact birth year or date. If you have a more reliable source, I would ignore the census birth year altogether - if you have no other source for a birth year, I would enter the birth year from the census with an "abt." (abbreviation for "about") in front of it so you know it's approximate. If you have more than one census reporting different birth years, either go with the one that appears most often or pick one that is in the middle. If you want, you can also input the other years/dates as an "alternate" fact but I don't tend to do this just for census records since, like I say, they are so unreliable.

As for the other sources, you have to weigh the accuracy by understanding what kind of document it is. A marriage record with a birth date/age is only considered a secondary source for the birth event, since it was recorded well after the birth event. A primary source is one which was recorded at the time the event took place and is therefore more likely to be accurate (though not impossible to be incorrect). So a marriage record is only a primary source for the marriage event or any other data occurring at that time (like maybe an occupation - that is sometimes listed on UK marriage records). A birth registry card sounds like it's most likely to be the most accurate source for a birth event IF it was recorded at the time of the birth (I've never come across a birth registry card though so I'm not entirely sure what it is - if it's like a substitute birth certificate that was filled out years after the birth, it is not a primary source after all).

Quote:
My Uncle mentioned they never celebrated birthday's and they each just picked one as they hit adulthood and needed it for their own records. We always thought a grandchild has been born on dad's birthday, looks like it's not true but his sibling was born on my grandmother's birthday(maybe)
Yes, it is possible that an individual did not even know their own birth date, especially if they were born before the state (or other government) began issuing official birth certificates. It is something to keep in mind during research.
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:55 PM
 
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You definitely have to weigh the sources against each other.

In some countries (like my family's) they don't celebrate birthdays, they use name days instead. There was no general family knowledge of when people were born.
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:26 PM
 
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I think the birth cards were used to issue the birth certificates but I'm guessing. Might have to do with the use of midwives so there was a record.

Dinska
Can you explain the name day? Is that the same as celebrating on that saint's day. I do know she named all her children after Polish kings.
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:48 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmom View Post
I think the birth cards were used to issue the birth certificates but I'm guessing. Might have to do with the use of midwives so there was a record.

Dinska
Can you explain the name day? Is that the same as celebrating on that saint's day. I do know she named all her children after Polish kings.
In some cultures, yes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_day
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:20 PM
 
Location: 5,400 feet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmom View Post
Dinska
Can you explain the name day? Is that the same as celebrating on that saint's day. I do know she named all her children after Polish kings.
My Polish grandparents were Catholic. The middle name of each of their children was the name of the saint for their day of birth.
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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Go with the record of the birth that was created at the time of the birth. Everything else is just hearsay. Unless ... it's a record created where you know that a birth record had to be presented.

Censuses -- First, you don't know who provided it - could have been the neighbor. Second, you don't know whether whoever wrote it down cared to make it accurate. I'm told there's a small county in Oregon (I haven't looked at it, myself) that in the 1910 census, every woman's name was recorded as Bridget.

Marriage, military, etc. records -- If they didn't have to prove birthdate (say, like for a passport), again, it's hearsay. And often times, there might be a very good reason for them to ... shall we say ... prevaricate.

Contrary to what a well-respected genealogist tried to tell me once, we are not a primary source for our own birthdate. We've been told that. We don't know it, because though we were present, we have no memory of it.

As for how you should record it. I would pick the most reliable record, and use that as the birthdate. Cite the source of that record, of course. But also, note all the variations, and the sources of each of those variations. But bottom line, pick the best, and run with it. An exception to that would be say, a parent or grandparent all their life and in many records, always used a specific birthdate ... but research reveals that was not the actual date. I'd record the date they thought was their birthdate, and again, cite the source, explain the situation, and record all the conflicting information and the sources, as well.
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