Friday, February 20, 2009

Attending physicians aren’t usually stone cutters

DearREADERS,
My dear friend Mark Tucker of ThinkGenealogy.com composed a thought-provoking blog entry earlier this week about the emerging definition of “original” sources of information. He compared definitions provided in ProGenealogy, Evidence! and Evidence Explained. Please read his Confusion with the Various Definitions of Original Source posted 18 February 2009. That will put Ol’ Myrt’s reply into perspective.

DearMARK,
Ol' Myrt here always delights in seeing how your mind works. Thank-you for this write-up.

I beg to differ with you about gravestones.

The fact that there are no clear lines of distinction is EXACTLY what you are trying to resolve in this blog entry.

Simply put, Ol' Myrt here contends that a gravestone is certainly NOT an original source, since it is unlikely the attending physician is the stone cutter who carved the name and date of the deceased on the marker and then stuck around long enough to see that the stone was placed on the correct grave site.

I know of one instance where a fellow genealogist was so overwhelmed by his father's death, that when the 15 copies of the death certificate came in, he just put them in a desk drawer. I came on the scene as this son was recovering from prostate surgery. I noticed that the spacing of numbers for the SS# weren't correct -- and in fact figured out that funeral home had placed a fax number in the Social Security Number field on the form.

Now, I know that on a death certificate, there are primary and secondary forms of information provided. And a death certificate isn’t the same thing as a gravestone. That is not Ol' Myrt's point.

The fact that YOU checked, and rechecked the accuracy of your mother's tombstone information, doesn't mean everyone performs such due diligence.

What if you had been so distraught that you simply weren't able to go to the gravesite for a few years? This isn't unheard of, you know. And over time, we all remember things differently. Maybe in a few years when one does venture to a loved one’s gravesite, through the tears, a mistake in the gravestone inscription might not be discerned.

Bottom line:
Attending physicians aren’t usually stone cutters.


So, DearREADERS, what are your thoughts on the subject?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

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