Proving An Ancestor’s Birthday

Genealogists frequently have difficulty finding good evidence of 19th century (or earlier) ancestors’ dates of birth or death. As you’ll read in The Value of Knowing Your Birthday, it’s not a phenomena limited to poor obscure families in rural places: even Herbert Hoover had difficulty proving his birthday!


2 thoughts on “Proving An Ancestor’s Birthday

  1. Claire, it’s true that Iowa required a record starting in 1880, but my grandmother, Emma, the first US citizen in the family, was born in 1882 and there is no record at the state, in the county, at the church and there is no Bible. The year of her birth is further compounded by the fact she lied about her age because she wanted to appear a little closer in age to her husband. If we didn’t have the family tradition that her mother was pregnant with Emma at the time she crossed the Atlantic, we wouldn’t know that she was born in 1882. She’s not as important as Herbert Hoover but registration was probably erratic at best and amongst the recent immigrants who didn’t have a state system in their homeland–probably worse. {{hugs}}. Jill


    • Yes, no doubt many places were rather lax in record keeping/record gathering in the early years; I’ve found that to be true in Lake County, Ohio, and that was with people whose ancestors had been in the U.S. several generations.


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