09 June 2014

What Ancestry.com has on the World's Oldest Man--Who Died Today at 111

CNN is reporting that the world's oldest man, Alexander Imich, died today in New York City at the age of 111.  A quick search indicates he did arrive in the United States in 1951 as stated in the article. The earliest reference to Imich  that was easily located is from a 1951 card and passenger manifest.

Ancestry.com includes several references to Imich in their set of databases, including a copy of his "displaced refugee card:"

A Soundex card referencing his naturalization:

A passenger manifest entry in 1951 for he and his wife, Wela.

All these references are consistent with a 1903 date of birth and the age listed for him on the CNN website. Two of the references provide the same date of birth--4 February 1903. CNN indicated on their news item that Imich's age had been verified, but they do not mention what contemporary documents were used.

Most genealogists would consider these sources as containing secondary information on Imich's birth--which does not mean the date is not accurate. Referring to these references to his date of birth as secondary only means that it was not provided by someone who had first hand knowledge of the event. It is possible that some primary record of Imich's birth exists, but that's not referenced in the article. I am wondering if these records were used to validate his age or if other records might have been located--ones that were more contemporary to his birth than these. My interest is only academic since I have no Polish ancestry of my own I'm probably not going to pursue this any further.

This was an interesting exercise for me in seeing what relatively recent material Ancestry.com has. I'm usually working on things not quite as recent as the 1950s.