QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-04 > 1081971916
From: "Margaret Hobler" <>
Subject: RE: [Q-R] PRDH Problem
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 15:45:16 -0400
I have been following this issue with interest. I do not use
the on-line PRDH, but the 47 vol. of books at the library. It
has worked well for me. I have always understood the French
usually recorded baptisms and burials, as birth and death data
were not always available. When I look at other people's data
they usually have the baptism and burial dates, and likely do
not realize they are incorrect.
On the issue of errors, no record can be considered 100% accurate!
One example is the civil marriage record of my grandparents. The
names of my grandmother, her father and mother are all incorrect.
For a while, I thought possibly she was adopted as nothing fit!
The official recording this marriage (in a small town)no doubt knew
every one involved. My great-grandfather was married twice, the
Clerk mixed first and last names of everyone involved. This happened
in Illinois in the late 1800s.
The Priests recording data hundreds of years ago did the best they
could; they are human and like all humans make errors. Considering
the era, I think they did fine.
There is no way we can be sure that any record is correct, unless
we are participating. We have to use common sense in all aspects.
Sent: Monday, April 12, 2004 6:37 PM
Subject: Re: [Q-R] PRDH Problem
In a message dated 4/12/2004 2:55:19 PM Eastern Standard Time,
I have more difficulty with this affirmation. It is not acceptable to
one mistake and write "is FREQUENTLY incomplete and down-right incorrect
the post-1750 period". Imperfections in the data in the parish
the multiplication of homonyms with time and the necessity to handle
of thousands of informations necesseraly cause mistakes to happen.
benefits from the work of their predecessors. Tanguay was the first to
systematic Quebec genealogy 1621-1750s and made a lot of mistakes.
came after him and made less. Jetté came after them and made even less
the 1621-1730 period (but committed a few). We came after Jetté...But
had done 1760-1799 completely and systematically before us, hence...
Look at the numbers : there are some 75 000 marriages before 1800, which
means some 150 000 filiations have to be established. If 150 mistakes
found in the PRDH information on filiations, you have a 99.9% exact data
base as to that part of the information. Find 1500, and you have 99%. I
vouch you will never finf 1500 bad filiations in our data, so I can't
our information would be equated with "FREQUENTLY incomplete and
I would like to comment on Professor Desjardins' remarks, from the
perspective of an amateur of genealogy (in both the English and French
senses of the
word, and of a priest who has enjoyed more than 30 years of parish
The most common reason for the absence of birth dates on baptismal
and of death dates on burial records, as Prof. Desjardins mentions, is
the early years, the priest who recorded the events did not mention date
birth or of death, but only the date of record, that is, the date of
burial. One of Kevan Barton's comments is well taken, in this context.
the record provided in the Vital Events repertory of PRDH includes only
baptism date, but no birth date, it is more accurate to inscribe "about
+ year" as
the birth date, and the date of baptism in its proper place, if you are
interested in that level of precision. [I must add, although it is not
problem, that cousins less than fluent in reading French should be very
about baptisms and burials which are recorded with such notations as "né
veille, née avant-hier", or "décédé hier, décédée l'avant-veille".
expressions mean "born the previous day, born the day before yesterday",
yesterday, died two days previously". Be careful not to record a
baptism a few
days before the birth, or a burial a few days before the death!]
The situation does get much more complicated after 1750, for the reasons
outlined by Prof. Desjardins: the multiplication of spelling variations
names, and the vast increase in the number of records, because of the
increase in population. There is another factor which becomes
evident as the dawn of the 19th century approaches: the inability of
ordinarly folk to read, or even to sign their names, and (it must be
decline in the literacy of the clergy and the notaries.
A final difficulty, which appears in every generation, and in every
is the tendency of registrars to inscribe the wrong date (often, but not
always, at the beginning of a new calendar years), or the grandmother's
name, rather than the mother's, or the given name of the mother's (or
bride's) sister, instead of her own name. This very day, two cousins
gently, for typographical errors in the dates of recent postings.
If Prof. Desjardin's statistics are correct, the error rate in the PRDH
between 0.1 and 1.0% . Frankly, don't know if I could say as much about
error rate in inscribing records in parish registers.
Fr Owen Taggart