The double date years

+8 votes
What is the style for years that occurred before, what was it? 1755? Some genealogy programs allow for listing a double date. Ex.: 16 Feb 1723/24. What’s WikiTree’s take on this?
in Policy and Style by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
Hi Pip,

Great question I would allege you would use the uncertain radio button with a note in the Biography to describe your hypothesis. Alas, I'm sure a double year would throw errors and not be allowed.

I figured as much, Steve. The program I’m using (FTM) warns about a dating error, but it has no way of recognizing whether you are putting in the previous year or the following year. It assumes that that you are putting in the following year. I guess if looking at a document during that time period then the year to put in the date field is whatever they thought it was. Don’t want to fry the WT system! 

It's not an uncertainty, it's a different calendar system. 16 Feb 1723/24 means 1724 by the calendar year starting Jan 1 (New Style, NS) and 1723 by the calendar year starting Mar 25 (Old Style, OS).

The wikitree policy is to use the NS form, 16 Feb 1724.

For the usual convention in British history, what you do is take the original date, and if it's before 1752 and on or after Jan 1 but before Mar 25, you change the year to the next year, so if you see 16 Feb 1723, that should become 16 Feb 1724. If the date is in or after 1752 AND it uses the slash convention, use the latter date. If the date is recorded in or after 1752 and it doesn't have a slash, don't change it because it should be in the modern format already (unless there's some internal evidence that the clerk was still using the old system). However, I highly recommend stating in the biography whether it's an OS or NS year or using the slash notation, just because it's hard to be sure that everyone's on the same page with this.

Note that this ignores the Julian/Gregorian conversion. 16 Feb 1723 OS is really 27 Feb 1724 NS, but the usual (but not universal) convention is to ignore that 11-ish day difference and just signify the modern year while retaining the original month-day. You just have to remember that if you're calculating date differences, you may have to look at the Julian/Gregorian conversion as well.
Excellent, common sense approach to the problem. A great example of this is that in Russia the October Revolution is actually dated in November since the switch of calendars.

3 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer
According to the Help Index, WikiTree standard is to use the second year of the double date in the date field. For example, if the date is 1723/24, use 1724 in the date field. You would then list both in the Biography section.
by Shirley Dalton G2G6 Pilot (486k points)
selected by Suzanne Doig
+10 votes

It would come up as an era on Wikitree, I agree with Steve, I have seen here on Wiki however that many times when not certain people put in for example 16 Feb 1723 and uncertain, and in the Bio. they have 16 Feb 1723/24.

by Shaun Doust G2G6 Pilot (345k points)
Surely its only uncertain if you have used a secondary source and you don't know whether the author has  followed the normal convention ( as in the guidelines mentioned by Shirley in another answer.)
One example is the execution of Charles 1. Every text book will say that it happened in 1649.There is no uncertainty  The actual warrant is dated 29th Jan 1648
In the bio text you would use 1648/9
Only reason I suggested uncertainty is to allow for speculation in this specific case the date is not known whereas with Charles 1 it's betokened to be  30 January 1649 according to the information posted under that source
+8 votes
Hi Pip,

You would want to pick one year and mark it uncertain. You can put both years in an explanation in the bio or a research section. If you put both years into a birth or death field it will indeed cause an error.

Here is the help page on date ranges, hope it helps :)
by Mindy Silva G2G6 Pilot (612k points)
Ahh, there it is. Thanks, Mindy.
You're very welcome Pip

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