Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sourcing When Using More than One Document

On my list of topics in the relatively near future is one one "sourcing when using more than one record or source." Regular readers who were subscribing during issue 28 know that I arrived at a range of years for the birth of Enoch Tinsley, based upon all his census enumerations between 1820 and 1870. The pre-1850 census enumerations do not list a specific range of years and the 1850-1870 enumerations, while reasonably consistent, do not pinpoint a specific year either.

I'm thinking how to best source his "birthdate." I cannot tie it to one census record as there's not one census record that gives the range of years I concluded were the ones when he was born. I also do not want to indicate that a census says something when it does not. My use of the 1850 census for Enoch should indicate exactly what that census said--to do anything else would imply the census said something it did not.

I'm thinking I should break my sourcing for Enoch's date and place of birth into two parts:
  • the range of years---and I'm leaning towards having that "source" be my analysis of his 1820-1870 census records
  • the location--using the 1850-1870 census enumeration which all indicate the same state of birth
I know census records have accuracy concerns. However, those records are all that I have. There are no birth records in Kentucky in the 1790-1810 era and Enoch left behind no other records that might provide birth information.

We'll keep you posted.

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