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Use standard formats in family documentation

There are some standard formats that you should use in your documentation. Using these standards will give your research a more uniform and professional look.

The correct way to write a date is military style which is day, month, year. The day is always two digits, the month is the standard three letter abbreviation without a period and the year is always 4 digits. Some examples would be 30 Nov 1962, 04 Apr 1794 and 12 Jun 1844.

Names are always written with the last name first in all capital letters then the first name and middle name or initial. For example, PERRY, Stephen Oliver and McMICHAEL, Sarah Caroline. If some one is a junior, senior or a II or III, you do not list them as such. You will be able to tell that they are a junior by seeing that their father has the same name. So someone named Allen David Smith Jr. would simply be listed as SMITH, Allen David. Women are always listed by their maiden name. Even though my name is now Michele Lewis, in a genealogical file it will be listed as SIMMONS, Michele Lynn.

Places in the United States are always written city (or town/village/community), county and state. County is abbreviated Co without a period and the states are designated by their standard postal code, again with no period. For example, you would write Dearing, McDuffie Co, GA and Tampa, Hillsborough Co, FL. The word Parish is spelled out as in Morehouse, Bastrop Parish, LA. The word District is usually spelled out but can be abbreviated Dist. as in Barnwell, Barnwell District, SC.

Every foreign country has its own system of political divisions so you have to play it by ear. Two examples are Sohren, Kreis Zell/Mosel, Federal Republic of Germany and Newton, Cheshire, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (Did you know that those were the official names of those two countries?) Foreign places can be written in English or in the native language, whichever you prefer. So you could have Munich, Bavaria, Federal Republic of Germany or M¸nchen, Bayern, Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

Whenever you are recording a place name, you must record the name that it was at the time of the event. McDuffie County was not formed until late 1870. Anyone born before that date was not born in McDuffie County!

For example, the Wrightsborough area was part of the District of Augusta in the Colony of Georgia until 1758. It then became part of the Parish of St. Paul in the Province of Georgia until the American Revolution. From the American Revolution until 1790 it was part of Richmond County. In 1790, Columbia County was formed and Wrightsborough was then in that county. In 1870, McDuffie County was formed and from then on Wrightsborough has been located in McDuffie County. Wrightsborough itself did not even become a place name until 1768.

Learning to document your research in the proper format is an easy way to give your research a more professional look.

Web posted on Wednesday, July 14, 2004

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