Do the Math–Obama has Visited 57 States in 15 Months!

WOW!  What an amazing record!
Obama spoke to would-be voters in Beaverton Oregon,  9 May 2008:

“It’s just wonderful to be back in Oregon.  And over the last 15 months we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States.  I’ve now been in 57 states.  I think one left to go.”

The last time I looked, the current US flag had 13 stripes for the 13 original colonies and 50 stars–the continental 48 states plus Alaska and Hawaii.  Do the math–Senator Obama.

We just celebrated 232 years since we declared Independence and the 219th year since adopting the new constitution–which he swore to uphold when he was elected Senator, D-Illinois.

Genealogists make similar gaffes when they do not do the math.  Calculators are easy to come by and every cell phone, ipod, etc. has a built in calculator.

Fuzzy math occurs when you estimate a birthdate from the age given in the census.

Bogus math occurs when you have an exact birthdate for the first child and you adjust the estimated birthday of the mother to match it.

Destructive math occurs when a deathdate is taken from a tombstone or will for the wrong man in the wrong generation because the surname matches or the cemetery is located in the right county.   The fact that the man lived 150 years is ignored.

Speculative math occurs when the age of the wife at first marriage is matched to the actual date stated in the marriage records–especially where the wife carries a common name–Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, etc.  A surprising number of men choose a second wife with the same given name as the first–sometimes a third wife with the same given name.

It is normal for pedigrees to have more than one discrepancy with dates.  When all other parts of the Search Dimensions–name and naming patterns, date or period of time, place or locality, migration patterns, and relationships–match, a date discrepancy can be accepted.

This is especially true when you document a marriage.  There are more than 16 legal recordings for marriage–some recorded before the marriage takes place and some recorded after the marriage occurs.  So it is possible to have 16 or more different dates for a documented marriage.

State the date you have.  Identify the record or source which supplied the date.  Do not adjust or shrink to fit or push the “make it fit button” on your computer.  Let the records stand with their evidence.

Then in a separate paragraph describe your own interpretation of the evidence based on all of the records you have researched.  Include the math.  Actual dates added and subtracted to show that your ancestor is the right generation and the right spacing for births of the same mother exists.  If you still have questions, pose them and indicate what additional work you plan to do on that ancestor.

Do the math!  Obama cannot visit 57 states, with one more to go–there are only 50 to begin with.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  These last few posts are called “minisodes”–one of the latest buzz words by television program advisers.  And one day, we’ll do a “minithon.”

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2 Responses to Do the Math–Obama has Visited 57 States in 15 Months!

  1. TransDutch says:

    Here’s the Snopes article on the ’57 states meme’.

    If you listen to the video, Obama stated that he had visited fifty (long pause) seven states, had one to go, except for Alaska and Hawaii. Which creates 60 states, but lends a lot of credence to his explanation that he was tired. Saying fifty instead of forty is a lot easier to ascribe to lack of sleep than 57 or 58 instead of 50.

    Of course, claiming he thinks there are 57 states is funny. And genealogists do make fuzzy math mistakes too (sometimes due to lack of sleep, sometimes not).

  2. arlene says:

    Sleep–a commodity in today’s world–is a genealogy boon. Do the math at night or whenever, and sleep on it. Then re-check with a fresh eye and head. Arlene Eakle

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