Death Certificates: California and Texas

I noted a few days ago that things were bit slow around here in part because the state of Texas had been uncharacteristically slow in providing the death certificates per my latest request. I had requests in with the State of California as well and they were also uncharacteristically slow. But then, as these things are wont to happen, a flood of death certificates showed up in a flood over over a period of two days.

The first death certificate to arrive, that of great grandmother Betty Sanford, I’ve already written about. In that post, I alluded to the importance of the informant on death certificates. I said that I felt good about that one because the informant was aunt Pansy Warren. Because she was Betty’s daughter, and because of her excellent administrative skills, I had a great deal of confidence in the information that Pansy would provide for the death certificate. Even so, I still found a few errors in the information on the death certificate.

In a recent presentation reported in the Toledo Blade, noted genealogist Tony Burroughs underscored the need to verify information. even when (or perhaps especially when) the informant is a close relative, the information on a death certificate must be verified. That’s because:

Death certificates, for instance, are notorious for incorrect information.
Informants, wracked with grief and worried about arranging a funeral and preparing for out-of-town guests, often make mistakes when they’re asked detailed historical questions for such forms.

(Thanks to Randy Seaver‘ s Genea-Musings for the pointer!)

The next several posts will deal with some of the death certificates I received; you’ll see examples of information provided by prison will be knowledgeable informants, yet inexplicably in error.

The other thing about death certificates, of course, is that they may be the key to a family’s medical history. The collection of certificates that I received this week contains a potential warning for me about health.

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Craig


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