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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Death Records

Records about a deceased person are the most unreliable vital records.  Why?  The person who can verify the reported information is no longer living.  Persons that volunteer information for death certificates, obituaries, burial, etc, can often be upset, which can hinder their ability to give correct information.  In addition, the person(s) who offer information may not know very much about the deceased person.  Many death certificates contain incorrect information such as the date and place of birth and names of parents.  The death certificate only certifies the date of the death of the deceased. The other data can only be considered clues, and must be verified by a family history researcher.  Let's look at a death certificate:

This is my grandmother's death certificate.  She was living with my parents at the time of her passing, as she was suffering from cancer and needed someone to take care of her everyday needs. This is a very inclusive certificate.  It has information about her date and time of death, where she was born, parent names, spouse name and address, cause of death, physician name and address, place of burial, etc. Fortunately, most of the information in this certificate is correct. The surname of her father is not spelled correctly....it should be "Haselbacher".    Information could have been more precise with the exact place of birth, but as an example of a death certificate with adequate information, this is considered to be a good source to use for family history researcher.

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