Someone asked a great question on the Legacy Users Group e-mail list and I thought I would discuss it a bit. The question was, which date do you use when you are extracting information such as occupations and residences, the date of the event or the date the document was filed?
There are so many example of this. Obituaries will give the place of residence of the listed survivors. Do you use the date of death or the date the paper published the obituary? If you have a birth certificate and the father is listed as a carpenter, do you record the occupation under the date of the child’s birth or the date the birth certificate was filed? This is a personal preference thing so I can only tell you what I do and why.
I always use the date of the event. It just gets too complicated and confusing if you are using registration/file/publish dates. Usually the difference is only a day or two but here is a more dramatic example. The informant on a death certificate most likely provided the information within this day or two margin but the actual document may not have been recorded for days, weeks, or even months later. I have deaths that occurred in Oct/Nov that weren’t filed until Jan. Many times they were waiting for the doctor to sign off on it. In this case, going with the death date would be a much better bet.
Having said that, if you did want to use the registration dates of vital documents (or publication dates of obits etc.) just make sure that you do it consistently and explain your rationale so that others reading your reports understand your recording methods.
Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis