Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Anna and her 2 Birthdays

birthday cakeIt’s been a while since my last post but I am finally getting back to going through all my sources as I described in a previous post; A New Start. I am working on the sources of my great grandmother, Anna Maria (Hinterhauser) Pakledinaz. Of course, I start with her birthdate and I have already run into a conflict amongst the information.

According to family sources, Anna was a leap year baby, born on 29 February in 1890. However, as a researcher and historian, I have to get concrete sources which prove she was born on the day everyone thinks. Well, this is where the difference in birthdates comes into play. I will always mark her birthday as 29 February because that is what she believed and what she celebrated. However, I also have to make note of what the facts tell me. They tell me that she could not have been born on 29 February 1890, but was, in fact, born on 1 March 1890.

src0086BaptrecMiliticsFirst - According to the Catholic Church baptism records, which I viewed on microfilm from the Family History Library, Anna was born on 1 March 1890 and baptized that same day. This is a primary source as it was recorded at the time of the events. However, I viewed this information many years ago and my transcription skills were not that great. I need to order those films again and take a second look. (A copy of my attempt at transcription is to the left)

imageSecond – I have a copy of the Milititsch Ortssippenbuch (a book written to record all the families within a village), so I reviewed what was recorded about Anna’s birth. That book says she was born on 1 March 1890. This is a secondary source so a mistake could have been made. (the information from the book is to the right)

Third – Probably the most convincing fact about the actual date of her birth is that 1890 was not a leap year. Unless I am missing something and leap years were different in the late 19th century, the leap years would have been 1888 and then again in 1892, years divisible by 4, not 1890.

So, what does all this really tell us and does it really change anything? All it tells us is that Anna was born on 1 March, which, in fact, would have been 29 February if 1890 was a leap year. And finally, it doesn’t change anything at all.

I am a firm believer, while doing this family history research, that what truly matters in our history is what our ancestors believed to be the truth. What they believed is what drove their lives and made them who they were. Now, I am also a historian and still have to get the facts correct, so I will record the facts that Anna was born on 1 March as an alternate birth date. I will always keep her official birthday as 29 February because that is what Anna believed and celebrated.

If you see something I might have missed or another suggestion, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


Photo courtesy of Will Clayton.

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