Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What Did You Inherit?

I'm not talking houses, furniture, money, or tangible items, I'm talking about diabetes, cancer, and those other nasty things that can run in families. Do you enter the cause of death from death certificates or family information into your genealogy?

Years ago, when my dad was asked - probably by me - what his mother died from, he told me she died from female problems. Okay, at that point, I thought cervical, ovarian, uterine or breast cancer. Yeah. No. My paternal grandmother died from a strangulated hernia while the family was on vacation. My maternal grandmother died from tuberculosis at the age of 36. Both my grandfathers suffered strokes. My paternal great grandfather died of liver cancer. All these items are carefully entered into my genealogy program along with that fact that my mother died from kidney failure due to long term illness and my father died of lung cancer.

The last few months I've been thinking about color coding my database according to cause of death. I think it would be an easy way to see at a glance on a pedigree view of the database any trends.

I think that needs to go on my "To-Do" list.

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. I agree with your desire to record cause of death. I've found that frequently, even the children in some cases, did not know the actual cause of death. My daughter is a Genetic Counselor by profession, and I know how important a "genetic genealogy" can be.

  2. My great-grandmother was one of six girls. When I received death certificates for all of them, I was surprised to see that two of my great-grandmother's sisters had Parkinson's Disease noted on their certificates.

    Thanks for bringing up the subject.

  3. Anne, I am going to use your questions as genealogy thought-provokers for members of the Ford Genealogy Club.
    That opening paragraph is just perfect!

  4. A good starting point for a family history discussion.