Should I include Confederate States of America In Genealogy?

When we enter information in our family history records, we try to be as accurate as possible when it comes to place names.  A major issue is that of the American Civil War.  Example.  A child was born in Kentucky in 1863.  Should we enter the place of birth as Kentucky, United States or as Kentucky, Confederate States of America

Before we answer that question, let us examine some historical facts.

1.       The United States of America never recognized the existence of the Confederate States of America.  (aka the Confederacy) The United States only recognized the Confederacy as a U.S Rebellion.

2.       No foreign nation ever officially recognized the Confederacy even though the Confederacy made many diplomatic attempts abroad.  Eventually the Confederate government collapsed and by Mar 18, 1865, ceased to exist. 

3.      No U.S. Census took place during the American Civil War.  Both the 1860 and 1870 census only refer to the United States.

4.      As far as I know, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates only refer to places at the local or state level.  If any exist that mention the nation, I have never seen any.  I am not saying that there cannot be, but I have never seen one.

5.      Official U.S. documents only refer to the U.S.  Example:  I had a relative die in a Confederate POW camp during the Civil War.  His military records indicate he died in Georgia, United States.  It says nothing about the Confederacy. 

Should we try to enter the Confederate States of America as part of a place name for birth, marriage, death, or burial?  I don’t think so.  Why?  According to the United States the CSA was not an official place.

To be accurate in assigning an event to the Confederacy, you must know the date in which each state entered and base your entry around that start date and an ending date of 9 May 1865.  That is very time consuming.  I had nearly 8000 individuals who had genealogical events occur during the Civil War in the Confederacy.  Checking each by state entry date would have been many hours of work without really accomplishing anything of real value.  Even though I had relatives on both sides of the conflict, to me they are just Americans.  They were born and died in the United States.

There is nothing wrong in identifying the Confederate States of America as a note in a genealogical entry.  This provides historical information without distracting from the entry of United States as a country. However, it is important to capture personal information related to the Confederacy.  Those that served in the Confederate armed forces or held political office should be recognized.

Scroll to Top