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I try the best I can. As you have mentioned in later articles it does help if the software conforms to standards, but who sets the standards. I am trying to use the Mills, “Evidence” protocols as much as possible.
However, if you return to the criteria that Mark outlined on his original post, the determination of the gravestone as an original source lies in its being the first appearance of that information in that particular physical form. Whether or not mistakes are possible (and I admit the exceptions noted do lead me to rescind my comment that the commercial nature would make these more reliable by definition), the final product is still accepted by the customer, making it ultimately a source separate from the original request form. I think there is a case for it being derivative were this not the case, and the form being its only source, but as it is, the source of the gravestone would be both the form as a guide and (more significantly) the purchaser, who will either accept it or not accept it. In fact, this is even more notable when mistakes do exist on the stone, because if the purchaser accepts the mistakes, he is in fact acknowledging the validity of the stone (even if the information is incorrect). Again, the distinction should be made also between primary and secondary information, and — even if the gravestone can be considered an original source — its information is secondary at best.]]>
The possibilities are endless concerning tombstone errors, perhaps a even discount could have been offered not to redo an error on the tombstone.]]>
HOWEVER, and it’s a big however, I can think of at least three instances in my family where the “official” and thus supposedly “original” sources were incorrectly derived from forms submitted by individuals providing primary information. My son’s middle name has an “ethnic” spelling. The clerk thought it was a different name and that “we” had made a mistake, so he corrected it. We had to have his birth certificate amended. My mother was born, according to her mother (not submitting the information, but definitely present at the event) on Oct 20. The doctor with bad handwriting submitted the list of babies he’d delivered that week at the end thereof to the clerk’s office in Silver Bow County, Montana. He wrote Oct 20 sloppily. The clerk read “Oct 25″ and subsequently issued the “official” certificate as being Oct 25. If you look at the original doctor’s writing, though — and you note that he entered babies born chronologically and there were babies born after my mother on the list on Oct 21, 22, and 23, then you know it’s an error. Still . . . my mother has had more trouble over the past 89 year with her birth certificate being “wrong” but “official” and theoretically “original” — especially in terms of social security and medicare — than you can imagine. Second, my husband provided his mother’s name for her death certificate given to the mortuary in charge of filing the information. It came back from the state incorrectly spelled. It, too, had to be amended.
So, I guess I still see tombstones as derivative, but yes, you could make a case for them being the first instance of the information in that form.
See what you started, Mark!!]]>
I believe that in the scenario you present, the stonecutter would serve the same position as a clerk, with one additional level of surety: the person filling out the form is paying for the headstone, therefore if any of the information is engraved incorrectly (to their knowledge), they will not pay. This allows for less possibility for corruption of the data.]]>
I believe the concept of “independent origin” is sometimes lost on beginning genealogists, as well. Outside of New England, most parts of the U. S. started registering births and deaths toward the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th centuries. In most cases, this provides for a death certificate without a birth certificate. Beginning genealogists then locate the death certificate, locate the gravestone, and locate an obituary or two in local newspapers, and they all have the same date of birth. Well, these are three independent sources, so the old “preponderance of evidence” standard would agree that this is the correct date of birth, despite that old census record that says they is off by five years. But in fact, the same person (for example the widow or the eldest son) filled out the death certificate, ordered the headstone, and submitted the obituary to the paper. So in reality, the source for the information is the same, despite its appearance in different records. This truly proves the superiority of the modern genealogical standard to the old P.O.E. system.
I think this may be the first time I ever inspired a whole blog entry with a comment.]]>
What makes it an original source? Unless the person witnessing the death carved the tombstone — indicating that the information about the deceased was original with him and not conveyed to him orally or in written form previously — it would seem to me to be a derivative of that conveyed information.
For example, if I filled out a form for my father’s grave marker, and I had been there when he died, that form would be both an original source and one that contained primary knowledge. Why wouldn’t the grave marker be a derivative of the information contained on the form I filled out?]]>