TSGS Cruiser Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The results are in for the below survey/poll:

Which is possibly the least accurate date of a person's birth?
Marriage Application (2)
Certified Birth Certificate
Certified Death Certificate
Grave Marker/Tombstone (11)
Total 13 voters

This poll was created to evaluate evidence. All four choices can and are sometimes incorrect due to human error. However, some are more likely to be incorrect than others. Recordings of events closer to the time of the event tend to be more reliable than those that are provided much later. A birth record certified by an attending physician is considered to be correct and can be used in court as evidence of the date of birth. The marriage record would be the next closest to the event of birth. Legally, each must give information including birth to the clerk to fill out in the application and sign the form that all information is true and accurate. Usually, a certified copy of the birth record is requested to prove date of birth for each. This would make the marriage application the second most likely accurate record of birth. This choice got 2 votes that it might be more prone to error than all of the others. What about the certified death record... it is certified by the attending physician like the birth record? Here it is the date of death that is certified. Date of birth, parents names and other “facts” come from an informant that is listed on the death record. How well does the informant know the deceased, was that person a witness to the birth? How reliable is the informant? Death is the last event in a person's life making it the furtherest record from birth. Thus, it is the third best choice of the four. Well, you might say, what about the tombstone the date of birth & death are carved in stone! As far as strength of evidence goes, this choice would be the least likely accurate date of birth (and maybe death). You would think that something as expensive as a grave marker would generally be correct. Why do I and 11 of 13 say it is not always accurate. First, the dates of birth & death are often recorded on the marker after death, thus making it even further from birth than even the date of death. How long after death did anyone order a marker made? Who had the marker made and how knowledgeable & reliable were they of the facts for the deceased? Did the engraver carve out the correct dates? Did anyone check? A grave marker or tombstone would more likely be the least accurate date of a person's birth. Evaluating your evidence is very important. The more documents that you have that are in agreement, the more likely that it is correct. However, the strength of the evidence should be based on whether the person providing the information was a witness of the event and how long after the event was it recorded.

The current survey/poll can be found in the top right-hand column... “Why Do You Do Genealogy?” There are no right or wrong answers to this one, just your reason for researching your family history. Select your reason and click on the vote button.

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