559Death certificates & Alford death data.
- Jun 3, 2013Dear Peggy,1. I received your usps today with a copy of your and Lynn's email exchange and the death certificate (DC) you sent. I was going to send this via About_Alfords but discovered that you are not a subscriber. You really ought to be because I think this is where a lot of the action is going to be - for awhile at least. I've copied About_Alfords of this so that as I update you on the subject the AA subscribers will be updated also. I think no one, except maybe Lynn Shelley & Wayne Parrish , know where I am headed on information found in or on death certificates. Those who are not subscribers to About Alfords can fix that by sending an email to the address below. No subject or text is required. It is free and without obligation and one can unsubscribe as easily as they subscribe. Notice that there is an underscore (_) between About & Alford in the address that my be hidden by the hyperlink format.About_Alfords-submailto:About_Alfordsfirstname.lastname@example.org. For starters lets remember that the subject of the DC did not provide much, if any of the information. The date and place of death and the medical stuff the doctor enters can be trusted. The rest depends much on the "informant" and just how informed they really were.3. Back in the early 1980s, even before AAFA, I began building and Alford data base that has evolved to this day. It has always had SOME death information. Those who go back far enough to be familiar with my early newsletter "About Alfords" will remember that I used to publish some of the data bases as pieces call File A, File B, etc. I just announced in the newsletter that I might be bringing that back in the form of "data dumps."4. Anyway -- as we were working on cemetery data Lynn kept coming up with death certificates. We even began citing the DC # in the cemetery record. She suggested that maybe we ought to be doing more with the cemetery data and without thinking (nothing new for me) I began building a website file that included the pertinent information. The html file has a lot of good features not found in my regular file listings or in pdf file. Those interested can see a copy of the thing I was doing via the link below. I believe that the only info in the new file that is not in the main data base file is the names of spouse parents. We can fix that.5. I was scanning the certificates and including a link to the DC copy. Later Lynn questioned copyright violation as most of the certificate copies she was sending me she had printed from a well-known online source. AAFA had already paid considerable dollars for a possible copyright violation earlier elsewhere and I did not want to create another expense. So I pulled the plug on the links.6. In the process it occurred to be that the pieces of data that I was keying into this file I had already keyed, in many instances, to the database mentioned in par 3 above. I immediately stopped adding to the new html file and began posting the DCs to the original database. It was amazing how many of them I already had loaded into the system.7. Unfortunately as we became involved in other files such as census, genealogies, cemeteries I was more interested in them and I neglected, almost ignored, the good ole database. Much of the data in those files has not been integrated. Considering the massive effort involved that scared the heck out of me.
But along came Wayne. Wayne has been an AAFA member, #1254, since September 2004. Seeing that he was a retired US Army Lt. Colonel and that he was employed as a Transportation Planning Manager for MS Dept of Transportation, I saw hidden potential. As I do for some I grabbed at him He declined saying he was committed to MSDOT at the time but he looked forward to working with AAFA and would let us know when he was available. He did and he has already made his mark, a sizeable and important mark, on our effort. He is now the AAFA data manager as well as he AAFA Cemetery Project Manager. He programmed and created our very advanced cemetery program that allows input from anybody and everybody all over the world as long as they have access to a computer and the Internet. He has devised ways to use computer programs to review our obituary files and process data for the cemetery record. He has also come up with a computer program that will check the find-a-grave files and extract the "up-front" data for the cemetery records. He recently tested that for the Arizona file. Check it out at8. I began using dBase in its infancy when it was still the initial version -dBase II (there was no I) I remember I paid several hundred dollars when it was "on sale." As I later ignored the basic data base file and became enamored with census, genealogies, and cemetery data I used dBase for them. I was even doing genealogy register reports from dBase as I was not sure genealogy software was here to stay. That goes back to when the LDS PAF (personal ancestry file I think) was about all there was.9. But there is a difference in what I can do with a computer program and what Wayne can do. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or even occupational specialist to conclude that a fellow who made college grades of C in trigonometry, D in analytical geometry and F in calculus is beyond comparison when it comes to a guy who taught math at West Point. I have no doubt that Wayne will find a way to do the best possible with our data so as I can I plan to keep entering data in dBase and as I begin to dump some of the data will be bugging members to help by entering new data in a spreadsheet and submitting for conversion and integration into the dbase file.10. None of ya'll asked for that but I'm not planning on leaving here with AAFA in a lesser shape that I think it could be just because I failed to tell folks what was going on or what I was doing.Gil Alford
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