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10 August 2013

They Weren't Asked to Clarify

In many records we use in our family history, the person providing information may not have been asked to clarify an answer or the clerk may not have been concerned about "getting it right." And the person providing information to the clerk may only have had to state the information and indicate it was accurate to the "best of their belief." It was unusual for someone to have to "prove it" when making a statement for a document, particularly for a vital record.


  1. So true. When my father passed away, his widow (second wife) and her grandson gave information for the death certificate. When I wanted to make corrections to his parents' information, the attitude was "it doesn't matter". However, when I made it to the funeral home and told them about the errors, they were quick to note the importance for genealogy research. Now, we have a two-page death certificate.

  2. Always note who the informant is for these documents. Death certificates are among the least reliable. While indexing death certificates, I see "D. K." much too often! (D.K. - Don't know!)
    Licenses for marriages performed across state lines may have incorrect information or the couple wouldn't have gone to a state where no one knew them.