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Find Your Family - What year is it anyway?

Article Date: 
26 August, 2011 (All day)

 

1752 is an important year in family history.  It is the year that most of Europe switched their calendars.  The Julian calendar did not coincide perfectly with the earth’s orbit and added eleven minutes each year.  The Gregorian calendar (which we use today) was introduced in 1582, but only a few countries in Europe adopted it.  

The Gregorian calendar was centered around Christmas and the immaculate conception of Christ.  The year began on March 25, nine months before Christmas.  March was the first month of the year.  If you have ever wondered why September, October, November, and December have the prefixes for 7,8,9, and 10 then you now have the answer.  Originally September was the seventh month.  Sometimes in records September will be recorded as 7ber, October as 8ber, etc.  

The change in calendar can cause some significant confusion.  For instance an individual might have been born on March 23 of 1750, but christened on April 1 or 1751.  Looking at the dates as we do today a researcher would wonder why there was a more than a year between the two events and perhaps surmise that there were two children instead of one.  In reality, the birth and christening are only nine days apart.

As you are doing research you may sometimes see the notation for dates of March 5 1750/1751.  This designates the two dating systems.  It is also good to use this notation for dates before 1752.  Understanding the events that happen where you are researching is key to interpreting data accurately.  The Julian to Gregorian calendar change is one of the events that exists across nearly all European and US localities.