Dr. Cornelius D. PAF
Silicon Valley PAF Users Group PAFinder
When to use "cal", "est", or "abt", "bef", "aft"
Use "cal" for calculated when you can actually calculate one date with information from another date. For example, with a death date and an age at death you can calculate a birthdate. The PAF program has a date calculator that will determine the birth date when you enter the death date and the age at death. This date still may be a few days off the real date even when the age at death gives days and months as well as years. "Cal" before the date is a warning sign and "age at death" in the notes will alert the user to a possible of difference of days if you find another source.
Use "est" for an estimate when there is some basis to give a date. Use "abt" when you have a very general time period. You can enter "circa" but PAF5 will change that to "abt".
Use "bef" when you have a date when the person was dead, such as the date a will was probated or proved. An old standard was to enter in the date field "wp" and the date the will was probated. This causes PAF5 to declare that the entry was not a standard date, but it will accept it. However, this abbreviation may not be understood by all who read your family history. Using "bef" with the explanation in the "Source Comments" would be more help to researchers in the future than a "wp" without an explanation.
Do not assume that a marriage took place before the birth of the first child. There may have been an earlier marriage for one of the parents. Do not assume that a daughter died before her father if she was not included in his will. She may have been given her inheritance when she married and so was not named in the will.
Notice that the margin of error increases from "calculated" to "estimated" to "about". "Before" and "after" can indicate a wider margin of error. However, the will is usually probated within a year after the death, and sometimes in a very few months.
Use "aft" when there is firm evidence of a date when the person was known to be alive. For example, the date a wife is made the executor of her deceased husband's will (1879) tells you that the wife died after 1879.