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11 October 2013

The Purpose of a Death Certificate

Before a researcher gets hypercritical of the information contained in a death record, consider its original purpose: documenting the date of death, cause of death, and disposal of body. Death certificates are also used to track a variety of health concerns as well. High priority is not usually attached to having the date of birth correct and names of places and birth and parents spelled correctly.

When a researcher forgets why a record was created, he may assume things about it that are not true. 


  1. What do you do when the death certificate records a different date of death from the burial record and the headstone (both of which show a year earlier).

    1. Try to find an obituary in a newspaper. That should verify which year it was.