I found my grandmothers death certificate and it states she is male? How do I correct that?

+2 votes
WikiTree profile: Rena Human
in Genealogy Help by Donna Golladay G2G Rookie (200 points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Donna, mistakes of this nature happen more often than you would imagine.  In the early days of hand filled out standardized forms you have overworked local doctors whose mind is occupied with other problems while filling out forms.  Later, copies are made at the city, county and state levels where transcribers minds are elsewhere while constantly copying forms into official record books or files.  I have seen the same same type of mistake a couple of times before.   I've seen death records where the age is quite different than if you figure it out from the birth and death dates.  Its even more common on the US census record.  I've seen records where people have been recorded as B when they are definitely W, and the reverse.  These are just some of the amusing times that come up in genealogical research.

As you grandmother died in the 1920s, the original record usually can't be changed.  Its been copied, microfilmed several times and digitally duplicated in several locations within the state and nationally, as well as several websites.  For a fee, I believe you can have a supplemental or corrected form made and filed in the official record, but it probably won't officially replace the original and will be ated as a recent form.  I've found several individuals for whom two versions of birth and death records exist, the first in the 1920s and the other dated decades later.  Its more common on adoptions and corrected birth records, but not unheard of in death records.  Its just a matter of if you want to go through the process and expense of having a supplemental record made.  If you wish to pursue it, you probably should start with contacting your state dept of vital statistics/records.

To my mind the best way is to make the corrections here on Wikitree and add a dialog or research notes explaining the discrepancies for future researchers.  Also, where possible make comments or corrections on any other websites that come up with the incorrect record.  That is how I have dealt with such things.

Just my two cents and I hope this is of some help.
That was very helpful, I appreciate you taking time to respond. I am getting pretty frustrated in trying to find any information for my Grandparents. I am thinking I am pretty close to finding all I am going to find regarding them.
Hi Donna, thanks for the kind words, I was glad to help.  I forgot to log in before commenting so I became "anonymous"; probably won't be the last time.

Grandparents are pretty recent to not be able to find much information on them.  I would suggest that if you haven't already, become a member here on Wikitree.  Then you can create profiles for your grandparents and ask questions for some help here on the forum.  I've been amazed at how helpful other members can be sometimes, on some fairly obscure brick walls.  Or, if you're comfortable with it,  just give some information about them here in thread and see if anyone can follow it. Best of luck in your researches!
Thank you Art!

I am a member and have scoured through all the info I can find on here. My Grandparents were William aka (W M or Willie) Human and Renny or aka (Rena or Rene) Smith Human. They resided in Scott Co. Tennessee and St. Francis County Arkansas which is where my grandfather is buried. From what I can tell they must have been there between 1924 and 1927 because my Mother was born there and my Grandfather died there in 1927 of TB. My Grandmother returned to Scott Co. in 1927 and passed away there and is buried in Killbeck Cemetery (unmarked grave) as is my Grandfather. The only documents I have found are a few census records when they were small, a copy of their wedding licences and the copy of my Grandmother's death certificate. I know both were previously married and that my Grandmother lost at least 6 children that were very young with her first husband. I am just trying to find out about them. I do know the Aunt and Uncle that raised my Mom were not only related by marriage to my Grandparents but by family as well. Linnie (Human) Smith was my Grandfather's sister and David Smith was my Grandmother's Brother. I am sorry this is so long but I am truly open for ideas, thank you everyone so much.

4 Answers

+3 votes
How odd. I'm unfamiliar with US certificates so it would be interesting to know what else is on it. As to getting it changed over here they'd probably take the view that it was a long time ago and has no bearing on anything now so they don't care and if you really insist then it'll take a lot of effort and cost a lot as well. At least you can put it right on Wikitree, another tale of bureaucratic incompetence.
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (206k points)
Or it could be that the father was asked the sex of the child and he said he was male.  Or the doctor glanced at the child and thought she was actually male.  Or perhaps if the certificate was copied from a hospital certificate it was misread or miswritten, etc.
umm, Dave, I hate to nit-pick but we're talking about a death certificate for someone who had children, so she could hardly have been a child when she died.

I have seen many death records that indicate gender is unknown.  Although I have never seen an incorrect gender, I suspect it could happen by original error if someone accidentally checked the wrong box or if no box were checked and the was a spot on the paper near the male box that a transcriber read as male … lots of ways to make errors and, unfortunately, only one way not to!
My Grandmother died in 1928 of Tuberculosis in Scott Co. Tennessee. The certificate had all the other information correct except that she was female. The other odd thing was she had living family members and was living with her brother but someone I have never heard of was giving the information.The odd thing is the information was hand written and it was obvious my Grandmother was a 38 year old female I am sure.
My Grandmother died in 1928 Scott County Tennessee of TB and it was hand written on her death certificate. I am at loss trying to find my Mother's parents I only had tidbits of information and no one living that would know the answers. My Grandfather died in Arkansas in 1927 of TB, it's like they never existed.
It was actually hand written on the death certificate and the other information was correct. She was 38 years old and died in Scott County Tennessee of TB
+1 vote

I know that sometimes it is very difficult to find things for certain people. I agree with anonymous who said that you might be able to get the death certificate changed. Sanitariums, which is what TB hospitals were called, were often not great places. The doctor who signed the death certificate may not have been the one treating your grandmother. He probably just wasn't paying attention. You may be able to find out a little more through your state historical society. They may have the records. I would think your best bet is to look in the census records. You didn't say how old your grandparents were when they died. However, they should be listed in the census before they died with their children and probably with their parents. Good Luck!
by Emily Martinez G2G4 (4.6k points)
+1 vote
I was working on an unrelated family, where I found the name at birth was wrong on the birth certificate.  Many genealogies had two children born to the same family at the same time.  More research showed that there was only one.  The individual apparently needed his birth certificate to obtain a passport when he was in his 50s or 60s.  There is documentation that his brother had to testify to his name and DOB in order for a new certificate to be issued as an amendment.

You can have records changed, but sometimes it just isn't worth the hassle. . . . and then there is the problem of locating the correction later and making a match.
by Kathy Rabenstein G2G6 Pilot (198k points)
+1 vote

As mentioned previously,  since so much time has past that even if the official record keepers will modify the document,  it's not effective.   It's been copied, microfilmed, and distributed to endless other sources by now,  not to mention how the internet has now spread the information like a virus.   The good news,  it's obvious it was an error. 

I agree with the approach "anonymous" recommends... "To my mind the best way is to make the corrections here on Wikitree and add a dialog or research notes explaining the discrepancies for future researchers.  Also, where possible make comments or corrections on any other websites that come up with the incorrect record.  That is how I have dealt with such things."  

However,  if this really bothers you,  contact the "official" keeper of this record in Tennessee.  This link provides the steps to change the sex on a BIRTH certificate.  (For a Fee.)   They will have similar requirements for a death certificate.  https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/vital-records/corrected-certificate.html#Documentary_Evidence

It's a bit bureaucratic,  requires evidence of true sex,  signed and notarized affivadit,  fee for the change and additional fee for a copy of the changed document.   

by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Pilot (181k points)
edited by Peggy McReynolds
Thank you for the information, I am pretty sure at this point and time I am just going to have to leave it alone and just correct it when I see it. It's so frustrating when I search for my Grandparents because it almost seems like they didn't exist. I know the 1900's in the south rural areas did not keep really good records but I find information about my Great Grandparents but nothing on my Grandparents.

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