Document ID: 102814Print this document
Basic Indexing Guidelines: Dates
Symptoms (Problems)

What are the Basic Indexing Guidelines?

Basic Indexing Guidelines are instructions for all projects. Exceptions to the basic rules are noted in the field help, project instructions, or project updates. Be sure to review the project instructions before indexing a batch and refer to the field help as you index.

Answer (Resolution)

When indexing a date, generally 3 fields are given: one each for day, month, and year. In the day and year fields, the program recognizes only numbers. The month field is pre-populated with the names of the months used in the project.

Missing Date

If a date is missing for the event you are indexing:

  • determine at least the year of the event, if possible. Records are often listed chronologically by year. If available, check the records just before and just after to determine the year.

  • do not assume or calculate date from corresponding fields such as age. Index the field as Ctrl+B or <BLANK>.

Birth Records - Two or More Dates Recorded

When a birth record has two or more dates on the image, index the earliest date in the birth date field.

Dates in Number Format

When indexing a date in number format (for example, 2/3/12), which is the month, which is the day, and which is the year? Consider the dates on the image, as well as on the previous and next images, to see if you can determine the correct dates. If not, consider the country that the document originated in, and use the format for that country. Click for Calendar Date, a Wikipedia article that gives a list of which countries use which date format.

Dual Dating

Over time, countries have switched calendars. You could find two dates listed during the time when the calendar was changing. For example, while the European countries were switching from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, from 1582 to 1752, dates from January through March could have been recorded with a dual year, and sometimes even a dual day or month. See the project instructions, project updates, and field helps on how to handle dual dates. In most cases, index the first date listed as the date of the event. For more information on calendars and when different countries switched over, click 111063 Julian and the Gregorian calendars.

Recent Dates

Sometimes, a batch has a record with a date that is more recent, or outside of the project's date range. For example, a birth record from 1989 included with some older records. Index the more recent record. FamilySearch always checks the dates and only displays records that meet the rights of privacy rules.

Dates Given as a Range

In some documents, a date is given as a range. For example, when the date was recorded as "between February 2 and March 9, 1937," index the first date in the range or Feb 2 1937.

Other Helpful Resources for Indexing Dates

For help with dates in old English records, click 111804 Reading dates in old English records


Other Basic Guidelines and Helps

  • 112975 Basic Indexing Guidelines: All Documents

  • 102817 Basic Indexing Guidelines

  • 102813 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Names

  • 102812 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Place Names

  • 111803 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Ages

  • 108440 Basic Indexing Guidelines: Other

  • Glossary of Terms

Answer not found above? (Click on the underlined links below)

Did this document help you to solve your problem?