Slovakia Beginners Corner Tips for Beginners

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  • You can calculate an approximate date from other information you know. A birth date can be calculated from a persons age.
  • If you do not know where the event took place, back up to the place where you have some record of him or her and work from there, such as other places where the person lived, last known address, place of residence of family members or relatives, or location of the school attended by that person.

Be aware, however, that only rarely do birth dates given in US records such as military draft cards, naturalization forms, social security applications, censuses, etc. correspond with the real dates of birth: at best, they vary by a few days or months; at worst, by ten years or so.  Our rural Slovakian & Ruthenian ancestors lived by Nature's clock and so dates relating to them personally were not as significant to them as were the dates of the religious calendar or the seasons for planting and harvest.   Remember that many of the immigrants were illiterate and would not be able to read their birth certificates even if they were given them to take with them when they left their villages.  Different information often appears on different forms.  Eventually, they settled on a date and used it as their "official" birth date.  If they found someone to write to the priest in their native village, he would look up their record and copy the record from the metrical book which could then be shown to American officials.