Cause of Death

Do you remember #MyColorfulAncestry? By going viral this post by J. Paul Hawthorne prompted many genealogists to create similar spreadsheet charts. My chart was first posted to Facebook in March 2016.

I later included my birth and death charts as part of my DNA Heritage and Challenge blog post.

When I was recently asked abut my medical history, I remembered these charts and decided to use the concept to create such a chart. Since most of my ancestors died in Kansas after 1911, I have a lot of death certificates. Thus, I have the information on hand to fill in such a chart.

In addition to the cause of death, I included the year each ancestor died and their age. Below is my dad’s side of the tree.

And my mom’s side:

In the process of completing this chart, I discovered that I haven’t updated many of my citations for those death certificates!

To figure out how many such ‘blank’ citations are in my file, I turned to the list of sources in my RootsMagic file. That’s when I discovered that I have multiple sources for the Kansas death certificates.

Thus, to clean up my ‘mess’ I first have to merge the sources. This involves highlighting the source I wish to keep and then using the three vertical dots at the top of the sources page to open the menu.

Clicking on ‘Merge Sources’ in the menu opens a window showing the sources. In this window, I select the source I want to merge with the source I wish to keep.

This opens a window showing the original source, PRIMARY, and the second source, DUPLICATE.

Clicking on the MERGE DUPLICATES button merges the two sources. When finished merging my sources, I now need to look at the citations to see which ones need corrected.

Clicking on the > to the right of the number opens the list of citations. Clicking on a specific citation opens the citation on the right side of the screen.

A quick scan of the citations reveals a clue to which citations are blank — the word NOTEBOOK.

In addition, scanning this list reveals several duplicates.

These duplicate citations can be merged in a similar way to the sources: using the three vertical dots. The fist step is to click on the citation to be kept an then open the three dot menu.

Clicking on MERGE CITATIONS opens a window to select the duplicate citation

Clicking OK opens a window showing the two citations side by side.

Clicking the MERGE DUPLICATES button completes the merge.

Fortunately, I had some instances where the citation had been updated along with a citation that is missing the information.

Thus, I can merge these two citations which replaces the bad citation with the completed ‘good’ one.

So, my little task to create a ’cause of death’ spreadsheet turned into a task to also update my citations for Kansas death certificates. If I hadn’t made this discovery, these incomplete citations likely would have existed in my file forever.

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