Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saving Death Certificates

If any of your family members died in Missouri between 1910 and 1959, their death certificate should now be online.  The state sent notification out this week that they have added the range of available certificates up to 1959 ... an increase of ten years coverage. 

Several other states also offer death certificates online as well.  At least four of them are:

There is no cost to print them on your home printer.  They have put the images online as a kindness to genealogists and to avoid as much of the copying and associated labor expense as possible.

I use the free Irfanview editor to massage the image.  I recommend downloading and installing the Plugin's too.  (Yes, there are many other excellent image editors available …  I use them too, but Ifranview works the best for me in this application.)

Simply point at the death certificate on your screen, right mouse click and choose "Copy".

Then click on Irfanview to make it the active program, then on 'Edit' at the top of the screen and choose 'Paste' from the drop down list.

You now have a copy of the image in the temporary memory of your computer.

Straighten the image if needed by using the Image > Custom Fine Rotation tool.  This tool is in degrees and there are 360 degrees in a circle.  Entering 358.3 will tilt the image 1.7 degrees to the left, etc.

When it is straight, point to the top left corner of the image, hold your left mouse button down and drag your pointer to the bottom right corner (just the opposite if you are left handed).  You can now see the crop line around the image.  If it needs to be moved a little, slowly move your mouse pointer over the line where it needs to be adjusted and when the pointer symbol changes to two parallel lines, hold the mouse button down again and drag the crop line to the position you want.

Click on Edit > Crop selection and all the edges are cropped.

Next resize the image to something that will print on 8 1/2 x 11" paper.   I always print in portrait orientation so the certificates stand upright in the protective sleeves in my storage binders, but you may want to do something different.  

In my case, I change the width to 8"     Image > Resize/Resample > Set New Size > Units = Inches > change the width to 8".  Be sure that the "Preserve aspect ratio" has a check in it.

While on this page, I typically change the resolution to 72 dpi rather than the 300 dpi used in the original image.   There is little to no readability lost and for these images, that is ok.  This saves drive space.  Try it both ways and see how it works best for you.   You'll quickly develop a rule of thumb for images of this nature and it will usually be very different from the one you use for photo images, etc.

You may need to tweak the image for readability now too.   Tools > Color Corrections.

I save a copy of the image now.   File > Save As  (surname firstname deathcertificate) in my genealogy documents folder.   I always use the surname first when file naming so the images are automatically sorted by family making a future look up easy.

Print a hard copy   File > Print

Don't forget to transcribe the data from the death certificate as a source in your database ...  Primary source for the Death and Burial and Secondary source for the Birth...

Also tie the image you just saved to the source record for the person.  If you are using Legacy for example, it will show up as a thumbnail image by the source text in reports.

 

From now on, you can look at the image from within your genealogy application .... typically by clicking on it and then on the 'Open; or 'View' button  ..  or by double clicking on it.

The image in this example just filled my 4th 3" binder of Death Certificates.   I'll teach you how to number and index them for easy retrieval in another post.

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1 comments:

Deborah Andrew said...

I was presented the "Ancestors Approved" award by Lori Hellmund of Genealogy and Me Blog. As a recipient of this award I’m supposed to list ten things I have learned about any of my ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened me and pass along the award to ten other bloggers who I feel are doing their ancestors proud.

I have chosen to present you with the award. You can pick up the picture of the award on my blog post at http://debsresearch.blogspot.com/2010/04/sentimental-sunday-my-ancestors.html

Keep up the great work of sharing the stories of your ancestors!