Duplicate Death Certificates Do Not Guarantee Duplicate Transcriptions

There are two entries for Herbert C. Ufkes in the “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011” at Ancestry.com. He most assuredly died only once although I only have firsthand knowledge of his interment. (Note: Ufkes is referred to as “Uncle Herb” throughout this post. He was my Granddad Ufkes’ youngest brother.)

The separate database entries for Uncle Herb appear to be from the same certificate that has been microfilmed twice.  The first entry was created from microfilm roll 18 of 1984 death certificates and the second entry was apparently created from roll 3 of the 1984 death certificates.


A quick check of the two certificates before and after both of the death certificates for Ufkes indicated that the same deaths were both before and after his. All these deaths were in Stark County, Indiana. I did not continue searching to see how many certificates had been repeated. The certificate numbers for all five certificates were the same.

Certificate number Name Roll 3 Image Number Roll 18 Image Number
84-006493 Raffel, Carl E 500 1527
84-006494 Sumrak, Caroline 501 1528
84-006495 Ufkes, Herbert C. 502 1529
84-006496 Ludwicka, Tatar 503 1530
84-006497 Kroft, Floyd 504 1531

Ancestry.com apparently digitized the microfilmed copies of these records. They can’t be faulted for digitizing them twice if they were microfilmed twice by the agency that originally held the records.


The “record” entries for these same death certificates are not the same.  One has Uncle Herb dying in North Judson, Starke County, Indiana and the other has him dying in Illinois, Stark County, Indiana.

The first entry also has a period after his father’s middle initial and the second one does not.

The first entry has an initial after Uncle Herb’s middle initial and the second one does not.

The first entry has an initial after Uncle Herb’s wife’s middle initial and the second one does not.

That’s four differences in two extractions from the same record.

That’s a bigger concern than the duplicate image.

The duplication of images was not Ancestry.com‘s fault. They received duplicate copies of some records.

The varying transcriptions rest at Ancestry.com‘s feet.

herb-roll3 herb-roll18

Uncle Herb was the first in his immediate family to die and was survived by his mother. There’s a story about how she was told and her reaction, but I’ll save that for another post.


One thought on “Duplicate Death Certificates Do Not Guarantee Duplicate Transcriptions

  1. Haven’t seen my FIL’s original birth certificate– wish I could. My father-in-law’s parents were listed on the copy with the last name misspelled (IE / EI) and his mother’s name was listed as Augustine, not Angeline — but her grand-daughter was named after her, so we know her name for sure. There is not an Augustine in the bunch! Transcription is a dicey business.

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