The oldest records are often church records. Yes, the clerks sometimes made mistakes.Official govt records are a bit more reliable, but what happens if a girl lies about her age on her marriage license? Does she get caught? Or does it get recorded as she gave it?In Missouri, they issuing birth certificates in about 1920, but they had no obvious use (as most people recognized their children and named them in their wills or probate records). So people regarded birth certificates as optional until abt 1930.Then came Social Security, the first law that required that you prove your age. Many early recipients had no birth certificates. Instead they got letters from parents, midwife, neighbors to attest to their birth date and got delayed birth certificates issued. But it was very possible to fudge the data to collect benefits a few years early.Yes, tombstone dates are often more reliable than census records for dates of birth, but not always. If Aunt Jane lied about her age and kept changing her birth year as she got older, what year do you put on her tombstone? The real one (if known?) or the one she liked to use?Errors do happen. Figuring out what is obviously wrong is one part of genealogy. But getting the correct information can be challenging. Proving it almost impossible.Isn't this a fun hobby?
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