Is there a rule of thumb for guesstimating death dates on profiles with birth dates prior to the late 19th century.

+1 vote
110 views
I manage many profiles where the only documentation I have is a baptismal registration. Without being able to find any further documentation of these individuals I have no way of knowing if these people died in infancy or led long productive lives. Rather than having profiles without a death date, making them appear to be still living, I have been adding 120 years to their birth year and entering the death date as before whatever number that formula comes up with. For instance if someone was born in 1805, I'll enter the death date as "Before 1925". This does cause error reports calling out the age as being too old. I could change my formula to adding 100 years, but some people do live to be over 100, and I don;t want to be marking a living person as being dead.
WikiTree profile: Antoine LeBlanc
in Policy and Style by Joe Mantia G2G Crew (890 points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I usually do it the opposite way and list the last date I heard of them and mark it after. It would depend though. If you only have a baptismal date,  there is no reason to suppose they did not live long.
Lucy's is a good suggestion.

If you prefer the way you've been doing it, perhaps cutting it back to 105 / 108 years and marking it uncertain or before?
I usually go with "after" the last event that I can source for them, but going with "before" works too. If I were doing that, I'd look up the world record for the oldest documented human ever, and then make the "before" date that length of time after their birth. (It's always possible to move it up when new data comes in, just like I can move it back.)
I think it's best to use after the last known reference. It's usually not more than a decade or two after that, and you can usually get a feel for how often that person tends to show up in records. If somebody averages 2-3 occurrences per decade and then disappears, it's pretty likely they died within 10 years of that last occurrence.
Also, and I know I'm bucking the trend here, I would never create a profile for someone, regardless of the privacy setting, unless I was absolutely 100% sure they were long dead.

3 Answers

+1 vote
Anecdotally, on FamilySearch I created a profile for my great-grandfather's youngest sister marked as not living, as all of my great-grandfather's siblings had died in their sixties or early seventies. I couldn't find any info on this sibling after age 11 and wondered if she had died young.

Later, on Ancestry, I ended up stumbling across a woman with a tree that included my great-grandfather's family. Long story short, she was the granddaughter of my great-grandfather's sister - and her still living grandmother had just celebrated her 100th birthday the previous month.

Her grandmother had stopped going by her first name, using her middle name instead, and she had married, etc. Not long after that my dad's cousin sent me a copy of my great-grandfather's obituary and his sister was listed as a survivor, under her married name, plain as day...

So anyways, yeah, some people live past 100, even in families that are mostly not long-lived, and you no what happens when you assume...
by Thomas Fuller G2G6 Mach 7 (77.6k points)
I found a cousin who lived to 105.
+3 votes

If all you have is a baptism date, why do you think it necessary to enter any date of death in the profile data section? Leave it blank, and use the "about/uncertain but nonliving" option.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+3 votes
The 100% certainty for people born in 1902 or earlier is: They are dead. There are still four women living with birthyear 1903 and 1904, and one man with 1905. So mark the folks as dead, but leave the dates blank.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (529k points)
According to google, the oldest human made it to 122.

I hadn't thought about leaving the date blank, but mark it as non-living. That would seem to be the way to go.

Thanks everyone else for your answers.
I talked about now still living persons. The oldest currently living person is a japanese woman born on 3 Jan 1903.

Put the dot as "not living anymore" but don't enter a date. Sorry if that caused a bit of confusion

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