Re: errors in death certificates. A biggie! #general


Meredith Hoffman / GenerationsWeb <mhoffman@...>
 

I've had several encounters with death certificates where the maiden
name has been butchered to one extent or another. I assume -- at least
in the cases I've seen -- that it's because the informant, who knew
the name and spoke it correctly, was dictating the name to someone who
was not familiar with the family and probably not familiar with the
speaker's dialect/accent.

My paternal grandfather's mother's name was Ida GERSCHKOWITZ. On his
Boston death certificate, her name appears as Ida GERSKILL. I've
always assumed that the informant spoke the name correctly, but with a
heavy Yiddish accent, and not being literate in English wasn't able to
correct the misheard transcription of the name.

Maiden names on death certificates are especially dicey and are often
a bit suspect, especially if they contradict other more robust
evidence; they're always secondary information in terms of what the
original name of record might have been. And the say-it-right/hear-it-
differently phenomenon compounds the issue. In my experience with late
19th and early 20th century US death records of Yiddish-speaking
immigrants, a good percentage of them are slightly-to-mind-boggling-ly
wrong on the mother's original name.

Meredith Hoffman (Plymouth MA)
mhoffman@...

BLACK, BLOOM, POLISHOOK, HERSCHCOWITZ/GERSCHKOWITZ/HIRSCH, BARISHMAN,
KOKOL, JANOFSKY, NIS(S)ONOFF, Berezno (Ukraine); ADLER, KOTCHUK (aka
SAMUELS), ROCHAVEN/RACHAWIN, Janow Sokolski (Poland) & Liverpool;
HODOSH/CHODASH/CHODOSCH, KAPALOVITZ/KAPLOVITCH, ALPEROV(ITCH),
GOLEMBA, GORDON, Myadel, Dokshitsy, Glubokie, Smorgon & Providence RI;
KROLL, ARASHAM, SANDLER/SENTLER, CLARCH/CLARCK, Vishnevets (Ukraine);

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