Be Careful Trusting Official Records

Standard Disclaimer:

I am not a medical health professional and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as medical advice. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911 (where applicable) or contact proper emergency service personnel.

As I mentioned in my Dad‘s post – Happy Angel Day Dad February 7, 1977 earlier today, official records can be wrong. My birth certificate has Dad‘s birth location wrong. A friend’s mother’s death certificate has the wrong death date for her. She died before midnight, but the doctor who filed out the death certificate didn’t fill it out until the next day and mistakenly wrote the death date as the day he filled it out.

Census records are probably the worst by far. Some people have no problem providing incorrect information, intentionally or unintentionally, to census workers. And I am not only talking about neighbors who may get the information wrong accidentally. Intentionally lying happened. Maybe a person didn’t want their age known so in different census listings, they gain or lose years or decades. Had a case where the person went from 30 to 50 to 40 in three (3) successive censuses. He gained 20 years in the second census instead of 10 like most people and lost 10 years in the third census. Maybe John Smith changed his name to avoid legal issues or an irate spouse he skipped out on.

Cause of death is often wrong on death certificates unless an autopsy was conducted. My paternal grandfather’s cause of death reported several things, but ignored the biggest cause of death: second amputation too soon after the first amputation. The doctor reported health causes that had nothing directly to do with his death. Mom’s cause of death was lung related, COPD, but no autopsy was done. Had they did one, it would have revealed that she had significant weight loss. It could have been caused by cancer or any number of issues, but it was a major factor in her death. Her paternal uncle died from giving up.  I know that’s not a medical term, but he gave up when he was placed in a nursing home.

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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2 Responses to Be Careful Trusting Official Records

  1. Dr B says:

    Agree entirely about census records and ages varying all over the place. In one my 11th great grandparents record showed the female having aged 20 years in 10, and the male not having aged at all! This seems to have a knock on effect where doubts then arise in subsequent documents as to whether they are even the same people! And ….. thanks for following my blog … great for a newbie to genealogy, I’ve followed you too and look forward to your posts …. where are you based, your About page is empty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ICT Graver says:

      Sorry I missed your question. I live in Wichita, Kansas, but originally from Gulfport, Mississippi.

      I need to work on my About page.

      I started genealogy back around the early 1970s when Mom talked about my half sister Lorraine. I will be doing a RIP for Lorraine on March 18th as she was born and died that day in 1951.


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