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Some people who keep genealogy records prefer to write a Julian date of 1 March 1751 using the notation 1 March 1751/52. GenealogyInTime Magazine recommends you do not use this format because this notation is neither a Julian date nor a Gregorian date. The correct Julian date is 1 March 1751 and the correct equivalent Gregorian date is 12 March 1752. 1 March 1751/52 is technically not a date, so do not use it.

The importance of proper date notation can perhaps best be highlighted by using George Washington’s birthday as an example:

George Washington was the first President of the United States and a pivotal figure in early American history. He was born on 11 February 1731 in Westmoreland county, Virginia.

At the time, America was an English colony, so it used the Julian calendar. In the Julian calendar, George Washington’s birthday was 11 February 1731. However, in the Gregorian calendar, George Washington's birthday is 22 February 1732.

This is the reason why (to this day) the United States celebrates George Washington’s birthday every year with an official holiday on February 22nd (the correct Gregorian date) and not on February 11th (the old Julian date).

Fun Gregorian Calendar Facts

Here are a couple of fun facts about the introduction of the Gregorian calendar that will be appreciated by anyone studying genealogy:

• A modern measurement of the length of the actual solar year shows that in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII should have removed 12 days from the calendar instead of ten days.

• It is easy for us to sit here today and think that Pope Gregory XIII had an easy decision in issuing a decree eliminating ten days from the calendar. However, at the time, the decree was not well received by the general population. People thought skipping ten days in the new calendar meant their life had been shortened by ten days! As a result, it took some people many years to accept the new calendar.

• The Roman Catholic church knew for quite some time that they were calculating the date of the spring equinox incorrectly (since all that was necessary to verify the spring equinox was for someone to use a clock to find the day that had exactly 12 hours of daylight). However, the issue was not acknowledged by the church until it became evident to many people that there was a problem.

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