PDA

View Full Version : Format for multiple illegitimate births


RobertB
03 May 2005, 03:08 AM
List,

I was wondering if there is an accepted way of handling multiple illegitimate births to one woman when the name of the father(s) is not known. Specifically, should I treat each child as if they have separate fathers or as if they share a common father (e.g., a father named UNKNOWN).

It seems to me the most accurate way would be to treat them as if they have separate fathers, otherwise it would appear they would be full siblings rather than half siblings. On the other hand, I suppose it would be implied that they are not full siblings even if they are all listed under the same couple (e.g., male named UNKNOWN and female named Jane DOE).

Any insight would be appreciated as I have several cases in my German research where this shows up.

Thanks,
Robert

sashafaith
03 May 2005, 09:58 PM
Hi. I have a relative with 6 kids, and 5 different dads among them. They started out unknown, but eventually I found the names of a few of them. Because they are actually different people, I made each a different unknown person. I know it sometimes looks weird on the charts. (And I do select the designation "Never Married" to clarify the point.) But I'm striving to document the facts, and making a single person to represent several unknown people wouldn't cut it.
Sasha

Mary Arthur
04 May 2005, 01:14 AM
It seems to me the most accurate way would be to treat them as if they have separate fathers, otherwise it would appear they would be full siblings rather than half siblings.Your first reaction is correct - it doesn't matter if they are married or not - if you are fairly sure that the fathers are different people, you enter them as individuals, documenting and sourcing why you think they are different people.

Mary Arthur

metfordplatt
04 May 2005, 06:58 AM
I was wondering if there is an accepted way of handling multiple illegitimate births to one woman when the name of the father(s) is not known. Specifically, should I treat each child as if they have separate fathers or as if they share a common father (e.g., a father named UNKNOWN).

It seems to me the most accurate way would be to treat them as if they have separate fathers, otherwise it would appear they would be full siblings rather than half siblings. On the other hand, I suppose it would be implied that they are not full siblings even if they are all listed under the same couple (e.g., male named UNKNOWN and female named Jane DOE).

Any insight would be appreciated as I have several cases in my German research where this shows up.I don't usually do more than read the list, but your question is very important. I would say:

1. If no father is known for any of the children, by all means put all the children on one family card.

2. If it is a more complex family, let's say you know the father of two, but not of the other three, use child status buttons. I renamed mine. Instead of "step-child" I made one "husband's child" and the other "wife's child", otherwise you don't know who the "step" refers to.

3. Illegit children don't have the same legal status as they used to. As in, they now have a legal status, whereas before depending on the jurisdiction, they didn't have rights. The change is welcome, but is it really necessary to have illegit. as a status in the first place for modern families? A question to ponder. It seems here that what you mean by illegit is simply father unknown.

Those are just my thoughts...

RobertB
04 May 2005, 12:09 PM
Thanks all for the responses. I have currently opted to place each child with an unknown or unnamed father on separate family cards, although Reunion makes this a little cumbersome when I don't want to put any sort of name for the father (e.g., UNNAMED or UNKNOWN). I have to place some sort of name in for the first unnamed father before adding another one otherwise when I choose add spouse Reunion forces me to place information in the first father's card. I can then move the "unnamed" father to the clipboard for later deletion or to use as a placeholder on a future family card.

3. Illegit children don't have the same legal status as they used to. As in, they now have a legal status, whereas before depending on the jurisdiction, they didn't have rights. The change is welcome, but is it really necessary to have illegit. as a status in the first place for modern families? A question to ponder. It seems here that what you mean by illegit is simply father unknown.I struggled with this for a while. I will say right off that I don't use the "illegitimate" status for modern families, choosing "born out of wedlock" for these situations. However, my research currently focuses on the Black Forest region of Germany and children being born out of wedlock were a rather common occurence there in the 19th century. I decided to use the term illegitimate in these cases because it adds to the historical context of my research. I could choose the route where I do not offend current perusers of my research, but they may not grasp that times back then were different and people weren't always treated the same as they are today. That is one of the issues I have with sanitizing history, which is what I would essentially be doing considering the church records refer to these individuals as "illegitimate" ("uneheliche" in German).

On a side note, if the father in that period of time in that part of Germany came forward before or after the birth and a church court decided that he was the father his name would be placed in the record to indicate such. Also, if the couple married, the child who was born before marriage would be "legitimized" and would take the surname of the father. In fact yesterday I ran across a couple who had a child out of wedlock, then three years later had another child. Two weeks after the birth of that child they baptized the child and were married at the same time.

Again, thanks for the input and for making my mind think a little more.

Robert

LAING MACDOWELL
04 May 2005, 09:37 PM
There is probably not one family tree without some illigetimacy therein!

With regard to recording several unknown Fathers why could you not give them a first name of A.B.C.D.E. etc and a last name of " UNKNOWN A" " Unknown B" etc. The Children could also be designated alphabetically {A} etc.

That way they would be all on one family card and amendments made when/if the father becomes known. After all they are half brothers/sisters and have a common Mother.

Laingmac@sympatico.ca

Betty Eichhorn
05 May 2005, 12:51 PM
Let me weigh in with a few comments. I attended a session on common law marriages which made a deep impression on me.

In the early days or when people lived in the wilderness or where there were no churches or courthouses nearby, couples did not wait to get married when the winter weather moderated or the circuit rider came by. They may never have "legally married" or if they did, the documents may have been lost for some reason.

But if a couple lived in their community as man and wife and the man acknowledged the children as his, the children were considered legitimate. That is, they were entitled to the same rights as children of legally married couples. That included the right of inheritance which was very important. The villagers were all witnesses to the way the family lived and would so testify if necessary. In a small village, there were few secrets.

If the couple married after one or more children were born, it made no difference. All the children were legitimate.

So one mustn't assume that the children were illegitimate if you can't find a marriage record. See if the children were acknowledged in the man's will or any other document. That may give you some clue as to their status.

I would never use the word "illegitimate" unless I had proof that they were.

Betty.

martha
06 May 2005, 04:03 AM
There is probably not one family tree without some illigetimacy therein!

With regard to recording several unknown Fathers why could you not give them a first name of A.B.C.D.E. etc and a last name of " UNKNOWN A" " Unknown B" etc. The Children could also be designated alphabetically {A} etc.

That way they would be all on one family card and amendments made when/if the father becomes known. After all they are half brothers/sisters and have a common Mother.

Laingmac@sympatico.ca

Rather than "UNKNOWN A", I find it simpler to call an unknown spouse or father or child or whatever as: Father of John SMITH; Wife of Paul SMITH, etc. so that there is always a name connected to the unknown person and I don't have to go through a whole slew of "unknown"s in the index. It helps to do this early on so one doesn't have dozens of names to change later when one realizes that there is no way to distinguish between the "unknown"s.


Martha