Member of the National Genealogical Society 2018
Member of the New Mexico Genealogical Society 2018

When Do I Use "USA" In My American Family Tree?

Let's talk about technicalities this morning, starting with the "United States of America." 

There are those who never distinguish between the United States and British Colonial America and everything is always USA. There are those who opt to wait until we won the war (1783) before using the new term for the Colonies, and there are those who love the technicality of dates. After all, aren't numbers a large part of genealogy study?

Enter any genealogist forum and this can be debated ad nauseum. You'll just have to decide with which group you'll reside and then stay consistent.

July 4, 1776, we declared our independence from Britain. We were at war, but we really hadn't gotten into the heavy fighting that followed and ended in 1783. However, we did declare our separation with the Declaration of Independence. 

September 9, 1776, Congress passed and declared that we were now called the United States of America. We were the United Colonies up and until then. Here's another group that believes in the technicality of when the name was conceived and accepted.

September 3, 1783 was the finality of the Revolutionary War. There are those who argue that unless we won the war, no declaration would have given us our freedom.

There are even those who use the dates when specific Articles of Confederation were passed (1773-1781). I am not going to get that technical, but you may like that idea better.

In researching a genealogy standard, I could not find one. What I would suggest is that whichever date you choose to use, be consistent, and on your Introduction Page, note your choice for your client.

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