How dates are recorded
Dates are important elements of genealogy, providing a sense of time and history. They are not always available for inclusion in the data and not always completely. Having at least a year of birth for living people will guarantee their privacy on this site. Here is how dates may be entered:
- Full dates are entered in the format day Mon (short-month) year (eg, 17 Jul 2007)
- Where month and year only are known: Mon year (eg, Jul 2007). In calculations this will be interpreted as the 1st of the month.
- A minimum requirement for a date is the year - 2007, interpreted as 1 Jan 2007 for calculation purposes.
- Some dates at one period of history are given as, say, 1688/89, because of differences in the calendars - see Calendars and Dates) for an explanation
- BEFORE dates. Sometimes the only point of reference for, say, a birth, is an infant christening/baptism. The date may be entered as bef 17 Jul 2007 (for before 17 July 2007 - interpreted as 16 Jul 2007 for calculation purposes.
- EST dates. "est" is used - est 2007 - interpreted as 1 Jan 2007 for calculation purposes - in situations where there are one or two reference points and we can assume a year. For example:
- Sometimes we may have two references points such as the births of an older and younger sibling, say four year apart, so we can judge the birth to be approximately half way in between.
- We may have a record of a death with the person's age at death stated and we can calculate an approximate birth year. This depends on how accurate the stated age at death is - sometimes they are rounded to the nearest 5. The same applies to Census returns.
- It may be that a wife is listed as "widow" in a dated document (eg, census return), and we have another document signed and dated by her husband shortly before that census - we have therefore an "est" year of death.
- ABT dates ([abt 2007]) (interpreted as 1 Jan 2007). Sometimes a birth year is based on broad conventions such as spouses being about the same age as each other (so if one is known the other is "abt same-birth-year-as-spouse") and their first child being when they are about 25 years of age. It is important to understand the difference between "abt" and "est" - a year marked "abt ...." is a guess and is very different from a year beginning with "est" which is based on evidence.