Numerous Research Documents Contain Different Birth/Death Dates, which source is accurate?

+4 votes
When you have numerous source documents that reflect two or sometimes three different birth dates, how do you know which date is correct?

1.Sometimes the baptismal document will have the birth date on it, which I would think is accurate.

2.I don't consider Find A Grave as a source for birth or death unless that's all I have!

2. I don't consider birth dates or birth locations on Census as valid.

3.I have found errors in the dates on the US Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications so I wouldn't use them (Many of Martin Luther Fritz's ancester's have these applications).

4. Obituary's are not a valid source for birth and death dates.

5.Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2007

6.  Book History of Ohio

What documents are typically the most accurate?

Thank you for assisting me in advancing my genealogy education.

in The Tree House by Taylor Worthington Gilchrist G2G6 Mach 8 (85.3k points)

I would not consider obituaries as the sole sources for birth dates, since they rely on someone's memory. However, since they are prepared contemporaneously with the death event, I would consider them sources for death dates.

2 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer
None of them and all of them. Errors can occur anywhere. Generally, the document created closes to the time of the event will have the most accurate information about the event. Birth certificates are usually good for birth and death certificates for death. Death certificates may or may not be accurate for birth. The more pieces of information you can get the better.

What it comes down to is how good was the informant. Each document needs to be evaluated independently. Sometimes you have to go with the best info available -- maybe a census. You look for more and revise as you create a better picture of the life of the individual.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (464k points)
selected by Jim Parish
+3 votes
A good 'rule of thumb' is to take the original source that happened at around the time of the event.  Thus, for a birth/baptism date, you take the birth/baptism notice or certificate.  For a death date, Ohio Death Records - and maybe even the obituary (because that might be only about a week after the death happened!).

Censuses - very good clues.
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)

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