21 April 2017

Dual-year dates and other calendar anomalies explained

When I first started my family history research, I quickly ran into some older date notations I didn’t understand.  They were listed as two years instead of one.  For example, I would see a birth listed as 21 January 1680/1.  I had no clue what that meant, and no one to ask.

I did, however, have the Internet and I assumed that I would only be one of many amateurs who were confused by this, so I looked at Ancestry.com, at the New England Historic Genealogical Society website (AmericanAncestors.com) and other genealogy sites, thinking this would surely be addressed in their FAQ section or on some “basics of research” page.  I was wrong – I could not find any such explanation anywhere. 

I did further research, finally finding a Wikipedia entry, which I paraphrase below.  At the end of this post, there is a link to the article (very interesting reading).

One depiction of a multi-year date from a Robert Hicks sketch.

Another depiction from a William Mann sketch.

09 April 2017

Correcting the Tree!

The fascinating blog of the NEHGS, vita-brevis.org
Vita Brevis (the blog of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, located at vita-brevis.org) has recently posted a number of fascinating articles about the correction of family trees – information that’s been accepted as correct, sometimes for many generations, that proves to be incorrect under further scrutiny.  I don’t know how common this is, but I expect it’s pretty prevalent.  In my own case, the act of putting my genealogy under the microscope resulted in multiple changes to the accepted “common wisdom”.  There were various reasons for these changes – willful misdirection, confusing records and accepted published histories that are changed due to scholarly review are all causes of changes to my own published genealogy.  I’ll start with the  most compelling of these circumstances: willful misdirection!