NEW-ZEALAND-L ArchivesArchiver > NEW-ZEALAND > 2008-07 > 1215900677
From: "Mary Skipworth" <>
Subject: [nz] Cemetery Data Reliability
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2008 10:11:17 +1200
My recent experience, collating burial records with headstone inscriptions
in a large cemetery, is that errors were extremely common, but less common
in more recent times. Not only dates, but spellings and particularly ages
are wrong. Age sometimes differs by as much as 10 years between headstone
and burial record. Maybe one member of the family instructed the
undertaker, while a different person gave details to the stone mason. Or
perhaps the stonemason couldn't read his own writing??
As genealogists we can only record the differences we find, we cannot brand
one version as "correct." The staff at the RG office are not immune to
error either. I have seen a certificate indicating cremation occurred the
day before he died!
I believe, and I hope this is correct, that database holders do not alter
their record when provided with evidence of error, they merely record this
new version of the fact. The original version should still be there in
behind, but obviously only one version can show in the on-line database.
I do find newspaper notices useful, because the date of publication will be
correct. Thus the person is very unlikely to still be alive after the date
when the death notice appeared in a paper.