Your Quick Tips, 26 May 2008

Book Review: The World Rushed In
I recently read a book entitled The World Rushed In, by J.S. Holliday, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma. It is a mostly first-hand account on one man’s travels from Buffalo, New York, to Sacramento, California, to mine for gold in 1848 and his return home in 1851. The book is gleaned from his diaries, family letters, and the same documents from others who made the trip over land and back by steamship. It includes maps of the route and reprints of original sketches made while on the trail. It’s a fascinating story, and it will change your understanding of what going west was like and how early California worked after it was won from Mexico but before it became a state.
Kevin Kerwin
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Minnesota Data Website
I am working on my first ex-husband’s family tree. They came from Minnesota, and is absolute the best website for information. I have found many printed obituaries from Minnesota newspapers. I wish other states had similar sites. There are also cemetery listings and other record types. I have truly made great headway in this line using the obituaries. They listed almost everything about the person who passed on. Debbie Hall

Secondary Information on Death Certificates
In every class I’ve taught I’ve always told my students that the only reliable information to be found on a death certificate is the date of death and (possibly) the place of burial. Then I tell them that, because humans filled out these forms, mistakes can be made even here.
All other data is suspect, as we have no way of knowing who gave the information. Hopefully, it was a family member, but it could have been a neighbor. What it all boils down to is, at best it’s all an “educated guess.”

Shirley (Turner) Shiver

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6 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 26 May 2008

  1. Re: Death certificates: The statements can be true, but
    the same can be said of any document? I’ve seen birth certificates that had erroneous data as well as death certificates when a family member provided information. As there were/are spelling errors there are transcription/keying errors. Can we not tolerate that some errors are tolerable?

  2. Re: Death certificates: I actually have a death certificate that gives the wrong first name for the deceased, and HER DAUGHTER was the informant. From what I can tell, all the other info is correct. I can only assume that her daughter was so distraught that she wasn’t paying attention when the person asked for her mother’s name, and so gave her OWN first name instead.

  3. Re: death certificates — They definitely cannot be trusted as being absolutely correct. As Shirley stated, date of death and place of burial can be absolute, but sometimes even birth date is wrong if given by other than a family member. Obituaries are notorious for having errors — especially in early small town newspapers.

  4. When I began searching for my father’s ancestors I had a very hard time. Both my great grandfather and great grandmother listed brothers as the father on death certificates. The information was given by family members. When I finally found that this was in error, I found a wealth of information. Also, the birth dates are mostly a guess since other facts seem to disprove them also. I believe that they just didn’t record the facts at the time and didn’t remember them accurately.

  5. When I asked for my father’s funeral notice from the funeral home the family had used, I asked for my mother’s notice as well. My mother died in 1990, my father in 1977. I was the informant for my mother’s record and when I read it, it was incorrect. They stated that my mother was buried next to my father when he fact she was buried in another cemetery. The cemeteries are just across the road from one another, but my father is buried with his parents and other relatives, my mother with her mother. So-o-o don’t assume that just because you gave the information, it was recorded correctly.

  6. When my mother passed, I was the source for her information. The obit stated that I was from Alaska and that my youngest sister was from Renton, which the reverse was true. How that got so mixed up is beyond me. Of course, didn’t know about the mistake until after the obit showed up in one of the papers. The information in two other obits was correct.

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