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AfriGeneas States Research Forum

Inaccuracies in Death Certificates
In Response To: Re: Will Pay Your Expenses ()


I have been following your thread, and if I may, would like to chime in on one aspect. When it comes to the information supplied by the informant--even if a close relative--there is no certainty that the information supplied by the informant is accurate.

For one, the informant is only supplying information "to the best of their knowledge." Even the closest of friends or relatives might supply inaccurate data, if they believe it to be correct.

Secondly, the informant may very well have been affected by grief, and therefore confused. In my own personal experience with gathering ancestors' (and other relatives') death certificates, I have found considerable inaccurate information.

For example, I had already been able to garner a good deal of info about my maternal great-grandfather. I still hoped to obtain his death certificate, though I already had learned much about him. Naturally, I was quite surprised by the number of inaccuracies reflected that had been provided by his own wife!

My ggf's parents and first wife preceeded him in death. The informant on his death certificate was his second wife, who was considerably younger than him. She could not ever have met his father because he had died 53 years prior, when my ggf was still a child. I do not know if she had ever met my ggf's mother. Somehow, however, in her grief, she supplied the wrong place of birth for her husband; she couldn't remember his birthdate, and therefore omitted it providing his age instead; she provided the wrong surname and place of birth for his mother; and she supplied the wrong state of birth for his father.

When we acquire and read death certificates, we still have to take them with a grain of salt. As with anything else, they are only as useful as the accuracy of the information contained therein.

Wishing you the absolute best in your search!

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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