Birth Spacing

As you are filling in the family tree including any extended families (aunts-uncles), you do want to include all the children born to each couple, not just your own direct lineage. However, that can be difficult, with a couple having many children, babies dying young or other children not living to adulthood.

So use the basic principal of birth spacing. You need a gap of at least 19 months (9 weeks for conception and pregnancy and 9 for the next pregnancy to develop, plus some weeks for what is known as “birth spacing“. If you have too great a gap, say 5 plus years, there might be children missing, since birth control products were a fairly recent item.

Now could have been special reasons, the husband was serving in the military away from home or was a sailor on a ship overseas. Still, look at calculating how much time passed between the birth of one child and the next might help to see if a child is not listed or found yet for your family tree.

Not everyone had children every year, not every pregnancy lasted nine months, and not every birth or baptism was recorded. Miscarriages, stillbirths and abortions may not have necessarily left a paper trail for you to research, so occasionally you might need to assume that, where there’s a considerable gap between the birth of two siblings, an additional pregnancy may have taken place.

Some sources to help include family Bibles. Even if you have checked, check again, something may have been overlooked. Census records for the Federal government are good and remember there may have been a state census where your ancestors lived. When checking census, look at neighbors to see if any children of a different family are living there. In the 1900 US census, a woman provided the number of children she gave birth to and the number living as of 1900. That can really help with seeing there might be some missing from your tree.

Many times a child might be living with a grand parent or uncle or aunt. See if there are baptism records on known children and then check for other similar surnames.

Photos: Nils Norstrom family in South Dakota of late 19th century; and the Blake family in 1876.

Related Blogs:


Ancestor’s Birth

Birth Number

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