Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Question about "of"

I received the following comment from Gordon Collett,
Something I find just fascinating is how many of these corrections we are doing now were not only acceptable but required in the past. It makes me wonder how much people fifty years from now will be shaking their heads over how we enter data. “Of” is a case in point. To quote from Lessons in Genealogy. (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1915): 
“Use of ‘of.’ Going- back to our sample record, we see that there is very little data regarding the names we have. There are no dates regarding John Young. The only fact we have is that he lived in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, and this we may record in the space under ’Where born.’ We do not know he was born in that place, so it will not do to leave the record without some qualifying statement. We therefore use the word ‘of' before the name of the town, Leeds. This shows us that John Young was a resident ‘of' Leeds, the only fact we have to identify him as regards place.”

This raises a question. What should we do with all those place names preceded by “of”? Since “of” means “was a resident of,” should we delete the place name entirely from the birth field, enter it into the custom events section as a residence and add the years of residence if known? 
Just for information sake, the reference work which Gordon refers to is the following:

Genealogical Society of Utah. Lessons in Genealogy. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1915.

The complete book is available on

The problem of using "of" to designate an unknown birth place is much more complicated today than it was in 1915. One of the considerations is the issue inserting a non-geographic term in a location description and the effect this might have on a search engine. Translated into English, this means the Family Tree program cannot search the locations containing an "of" designation. 

The addition of the word "of" to designate a place that the person lived during his or her life time is a result of using a standardized form. Today, you can use the "Other Information" section to add a residence and leave the birth field blank. Here is a screenshot showing the selection for "Residence."

If you find entries stating a location with the word "of" you can simply copy the information into a residence entry in Other Information and then delete the "of" location in the birth information field. 

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