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From: "Mills" <>
Subject: [APG] GPS Evidence Analysis
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 00:51:02 -0600

Philip wrote:
>My grandfather has one date for his birth and another for his wedding
> certificate. ... I have no
> way of resolving the conflicting evidence, so I can't have a credible
> conclusion or does it really mater? There are no census records for
> the island of Carriacou to check against (they were destroyed after
> the abstract was completed) and I have not found a death certificate
> and my only surviving uncle has Alzheimer's and can't tell me
> anything and I haven't been able to visit Carriacou to look for a
> tombstone and that is assuming that one exists and that I'd be able
> to find it.


What other records exist for Carriacou? Yes, when we want an age, we put a lot of hope in census records, B/M/D certificates, obits, and tombstones. But records of ages can be stated in (or drawn from) many other kinds of documents--tax rolls, land records, probates, lawsuits, voter registrations, records of the poor, church records, &c &c &c. Given the extent of record destruction on many such islands, has your search for records extended to the "mother country"? Many times, when dealing with colonies and dependencies, we focus our search upon onsite records and forget to seek out the records that the colonial/etc. administration sent back to the "mother country." Most of those have far more on colonial residents than we tend to assume.

I have to say, I don't feel as hopeless as you right now--though I may have a bit more of a writing challenge ahead of me :). For the project on which I'm burning tonight's midnight oil, legalities hang on the reliability of ages as they appear in censuses and birth/baptism registrations. It's a family of freed slaves, and I've just finished a few stats from the full panoply of records we've accumulated:

87 individuals total
232 records citing an age or birth date

2 individuals: no record of age
24 individuals: 1 record of age
61 individuals: multiple records of age
(2-10 records per person)

11 individuals for whom all records agree
19 individuals for whom no records agree
57 individuals for whom some records agree & some don't

48 individuals: multiple censuses state ages
5 cases: all censuses agree
22 cases: all censuses disagree
21 cases: partial agreement

So how widely do the ages vary?
4 cases, less than a year
12 cases, 1 year
7 cases, 2 years
10 cases, 3-5 years
6 cases, 5-10 years
7 cases, 10-20 years
1 case, 22 years
1 case, 34 years

Yes, in each and every case of these discrepancies, there's proof that they deal with one and the same individual. (In the case of the individual with 22 years discrepancy, two records, created on the same day, with the same family info, state ages 20 years apart.)

All this, it seems to me, also bears upon two of our recent discussions: What is reasonably exhaustive research? and To what extent do records reveal truth?


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Track 4, Advanced Research Methodology & Evidence Analysis
Samford University Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research

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