Re: Old Disease Names Frequently Found on Death Certificates: What Would They be Called Today? #names #general


Thanks for sharing that, Mr Goldfarb- I hadn't seen that page. I'm the daughter and granddaughter of refugees from Vienna and have been working on my family tree since I started the Austrian citizenship restoration process last year. But my day job is being a professor of medical informatics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of my principal research areas is medical terminology, particularly medical terminology that is used -- and not used -- by the general public. 

It is important to understand that there was no national standard for medical classification at all before the 1930s -- although large hospitals would develop their own lists of terms and train healthcare staff to use them, these varied from hospital to hospital, and on the small local level of the hometown physician outside of those large hospitals, nobody was doing any enforcing of standards at all. It was not until the rise of the computer and the associated need for real standards that anything like consistency could be found. 

So while sources like this "dictionary" can be useful when starting research, more information is needed to really draw a conclusion about the health experiences of a particular ancestor. 

There's a useful report on the history of disease classification from the CDC, available freely online here: 

Catherine Arnott Smith
Stoughton, Wisconsin, USA

Join { to automatically receive all group messages.