TMG-L Archives

Archiver > TMG > 2002-11 > 1036798292

From: Ida Skarson McCormick <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] TIP OF THE DAY-Setting sort dates[& estimating birthdates]
Date: Fri, 08 Nov 2002 15:31:49 -0800
In-Reply-To: <>

A rule of thumb (as propounded by the late Arthur D. Fiske, genealogical
educator and founder of the Fiske Foundation genealogical library in
Seattle) is the 1st child within the first year of marriage, then every 1
1/2 to 2 years for a while, followed by about every 3 years toward the end
of the childbearing years. This was back in the days of 8, 10 or more
children. Also, Southerners averaged larger families than New
Englanders. Use of wet nurses would cause babies to be spaced closer

I use this method not only to estimate the sort dates but also to give
every person in the TMG database an estimated date of birth. I tend to
round the estimated dates to the nearest 5 year increment.

If there are unusual gaps, we need to look for causes and/or missing
children. Sometimes apparent wide spaces are caused by miscarriages or
deaths of infants. Is there an Rh negative problem in the family? When my
daughter turned up Rh negative, I realized why one of her
great-grandmothers had so many miscarriages and only 3 live births.

The average age at marriage varied at different times and places. There
are articles in historical journals on this topic. Twenty years is too
early for age of marriage for most of the ancestors. I would generally
estimate about 25 years for a man at marriage and 23 years for a woman, but
a specific locality and time could change this estimate. The American
Revolution, for example, caused a great upheaval in society.

When the child's position in the family is unknown, age of the parents at
his/her birth can be projected to be at the middle of the woman's married
childbearing years and at a 35-year midpoint age for a man, according to
Mr. Fiske. This works out to about 3 generations per century.

--Ida Skarson McCormick, , Seattle

At 10:24 AM 11/06/2002 -0500, "Teresa Ghee Elliott" <>
>I also use the following rules for setting sort dates.
>Marriages: 20 years after birth
>First child: 1 year after marriage, each additional child: add one year.

This thread: