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How important are vital records

How important are vital records

Posted: 2 Aug 2012 3:17PM GMT
Classification: Query
If I already have the information from another source, ex. WWII Registration card, burial cards, church records, etc. How important is it to have copies of their birth, marriage, or death certificate?

Also, is there an importance to having a certified copy of a death certificate or will a non-certified death certificate provide the same information with out the raised seal?

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 3 Aug 2012 12:12AM GMT
Classification: Query
How important is accurate information to you? I'm not being flippant. Sometimes it doesn't really matter, especially when you're tracing a distant line of cousins. It might be enough to know that a family had 6 children and you have their ages, genders, and approximate birth years.

WWI and WWII registration cards are filled with errors. I have already found a couple where the man was listed as a year or two older than I knew he was. And what a coincidence, this "error" made him just old enough to serve. In other words, the officials didn't check them. The man (or boy) put what he wanted to put.

For burial records, it depends who filled it out. Obviously the date of death is going to be accurate. A spouse or an adult child will probably get the date of birth right (though not if the person lied about her/his age or was very old). If someone dies after their spouse and didn't have kids or they aren't available, then it can be a distant relative or a neighbor or even a stranger who fills out the info with the funeral home/coroner.

Church (place of worship) records are vital records in many places. So it depends what you're looking for. If it's the worship record for the marriage, baptism, bris, etc they performed, the info should be accurate. If you're inferring information then it could be off, like assuming that Mr. and Mrs. Smith are the grandparents for Baby Smith at the baptism (could be a stepgrandma or they could be aunt and uncle).

Also, you never know what gems of information you will find on a vital record. Death certificates often have different information from burial records and sometimes they are filled out by completely different people. Birth certificates and marriage certificates will have different information from worship records. And so on.

Only you can decide how important certain information is to you or what level of accuracy you need. I prefer to get everything I can, though I don't always pay for records if I'm not sure I need them.

Cyndi

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 3 Aug 2012 1:16AM GMT
Classification: Query
I want completely accurate information. My family is quite confusing since most of them have been married, divorced, and remarried so im not sure which are aunts or uncles are full, half or step. So i guess getting the vital records is completely accurate since paperwork filled out in the early days may not be accurate. I just wasnt sure if i should spend the money but looks like i will be. Thanks for clearing this up.

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 3 Aug 2012 4:04PM GMT
Classification: Query
There can be mistakes on vital records too, but, other than typos, it would be rare to find a mistake for the information the vital record is for.

By that I mean, a birth certificate will be as accurate as you can possibly get for the birth date and name given at birth and the birth location. The parent's names are probably accurate. Mom's maiden name is likely to be accurate. But other info (like residence or parents' occupation) on there might not be, depending on who was giving the info, if they were lying, etc. A birth cert will also not clear up a paternity question if the "wrong" father was married to the mother.

A death cert will be very accurate for info about the death but could be wrong about the birthdate. And so on.

So, yeah, they're worth getting if it's in your budget.

Cyndi

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 23 Aug 2012 10:15AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 23 Aug 2012 10:15AM GMT
Vital records are important but they often contain more than "typos"

Vital records are simply the "official" records and if bad or no information was provided then that will be reflected on the vital record.

I have death certificates where half of the information says "unknown" and one where the deceased and his long dead wife are shown as being his own parents. In these cases language barriers likely prevented complete and accurate information from being provided.

Vital records are helpful in as much as they try to collect a lot of the information people looking into their family history want, but don't view them as infallible

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 11 Sep 2012 8:37PM GMT
Classification: Query
Now I am more confused. Reequested a birth certificare for my grandfather based off of information I received off of social security death index, nothing was found. I did a little bit more digging and found out that information was incorrect and found new information so I requested another certificate - again I received notice that there was no birth certificate in 1926. Is it possible that they never filed for a birth certificate?

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 5 Nov 2012 3:25AM GMT
Classification: Query
I love vital records.... well, actually, I love ALL documented records!! My primary goal is to get primary sources and as many secondary sources as possible after that. Each document tells a story and by having that copy (certified or not) helps you fill in gaps.

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 5 Nov 2012 3:30AM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Clark
Possible, but I too had problems with my grandfather, born in 1916.

According to his official birth certificate, he was born in Woodward Co., OK; however, before I found his birth certificate, my secondary sources 'told me' his birth was:

1937 Marriage License: Woodward Co., OK
1937 SSAN Application: Amarillo, TX
1938 SSAN Application: Woodward Co., OK
Military Discharge Certificate: Amarillo, TX
Death Certificate: OK

The first document I had was a copy of his military discharge certificate which was handed down after he passed. That's where I started; however, that location was wrong. I did some digging and found the other location and BINGO - that county/state had his certificate!!

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 5 Nov 2012 1:55PM GMT
Classification: Query
Funny you should mention that. Almost everything I have on on of my great grandfathers says he was born in 1850. But I see him listed as 3 years old in the 1850 census. I find that the closest document to the date of a particular event is usually the most reliable.

Re: How important are vital records

Posted: 5 Nov 2012 2:47PM GMT
Classification: Query
"Almost everything I have on on of my great grandfathers says he was born in 1850. But I see him listed as 3 years old in the 1850 census."

Usually I'd say, ignore the census, they are often wrong about dates like that, the rest of the docs are your evidence. But no one, not even a distant neighbor, is going to mistake an infant for a 3 year old. Unless there was some confusion with which child was which (another possibility is the 3 year old died after the census was taken and mom was already pregnant and passed down the name).

"I find that the closest document to the date of a particular event is usually the most reliable."

I use that rule too, though it's not perfect. With the Census, sometimes the later ones are more accurate because my ancestors were immigrants from non-English speaking countries and, even if their recall didn't improve with time, their conversational skills with census takers did.

Cyndi
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