It is well understood that birth information on death certificates is secondary. But for death and burial information, they generally provide primary information. Does that mean they are always right?
Consider the case of William Henry Malloch, died 10 August 1920 in Milltown, Charlotte, New Brunswick. The death certificate specifies one cause of death. His burial date suggests quite another.
Which date is wrong? How do you know?
As Tom Jones has said, “Conclusions about whether evidence is or is not correct results from aggregated evidence, not source-by-source assessment… A source’s accuracy is unknown until the researcher has accumulated enough evidence for tests of correlation—the comparison and contrasting of sources and information to reveal points of agreement and disagreement.”1
Darned clerking errors! Yes, records say the darnedest things!
Thank you, William Romanski, for this example.
Image: “New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815-1938,” index and image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XGCR-X9F : accessed 1 January 2015), William Henry Malloch, 10 Aug 1920; citing Milltown, Charlotte, New Brunswick, death certificate 004641, Provincial Archives, Fredericton; FHL microfilm 2,134,614.
1. Thomas W. Jones, “Skillbuilding: Perils of Source Snobbery,” Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/skbld135b.html : accessed 1 January 2015); citing OnBoard 18 (May 2012): 9-10, 15. See also, “The Genealogical Proof Standard,” Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://bcgcertification.org/resources/standard.html : accessed 1 January 2015).