Monday, March 17, 2014



CAUSE OF DEATH – That’s one of the things I always want to know when I’m researching my ancestors.

WHY?  Because, to me, it’s very interesting to see the different kinds of things that people died from during different times in history.  Also, because it will give you a good idea of what types of diseases or conditions run in your family.   

Where can we go to find the definitions for the various causes of death we see on all the records we locate?

You can always use your favorite search engine, Google or Bing or Yahoo or whatever you prefer.

I used Google and typed in “Medical terms in the nineteenth century.”

Here is just the first few choices that were listed.

medical terms in 19th century

Clicking on the very first one brings up an 11 page report listing medical terms from that time period.  That was easy.

Then I got curious and wondered if I could create a list in Legacy, that would show who died of which disease or ailment?

The answer is YES, I can.  Here are some of the results of my search. 
 (Legacy users please go to the bottom of this post to find specific instructions)

For Typhoid Fever (click on any image to enlarge it)

cause of death - typhoid dever

For Dropsy

cause of death - dropsy

And for Consumption

cause of death - consumption

Of course there are many more that I could look up. But, you get the idea.  

How many of our ancestors might have lived longer had they been born in modern times? 

How many of us living today would live longer 100 years from now?  The advances in medicine have been astounding during the past 100-150 years.  

In the 19th century the doctors arrived in buggies or on horseback.  Surgical instruments like the ones below might have been used if needed.
country doctor        surgical_kit_of_country_doctor_19th_century_n700077

What kind of unusual causes of death have you found in your family?  

Do you look for the definition of a disease or cause, if you don’t know what it is?

NOTE:  If the cause of death is something that isn’t ordinary by today’s terms, I try to enter a definition.  Now that I’ve typed that statement I realize something.  I should be entering a definition for every cause of death, shouldn’t I?  Because in 50 or 100 years will our descendants know what our definitions were?  Sure, they will be able to look them up, but maybe I will save them the trouble.

Legacy Users – here are the steps I took to create the cause of death list. 
I went to the “search” tab at the top of my screen, then clicked on “find.”
Next, click on the “detailed search” tab.  Here is what I chose for each question:
Look for whom?  Individual
Where to look?  Cause of death
How to look?  Contains
What to look for?  I typed in whatever disease or ailment I wanted to search for
Then click on “Create List” at the bottom of the screen.
If you want to create a list with more information, just use the “Or” option under the second and third condition and repeat the above steps, only enter a different cause of death.

That’s all the fun for today.  Thanks for stopping by.

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2014   Diane Gould Hall

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I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.