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My Ancestor Died of What?!

vintage medical supplies

August 21, 2019

“What was the ‘white plague’?” you may wonder to yourself while looking at an ancestor’s death record. Oftentimes, genealogists will run across all types of interesting information while researching their family history. Medical terminology is no exception and can prove difficult to understand. Don’t fear! The Midwest Genealogy Center has many resources to help you find answers.

Search Mid-Continent Public Library’s online catalog using keywords likes “medical terms” and “historical terms” to discover what is available in MGC’s collection. Some of the resources include A Medical Miscellany for Genealogists by Jeanette L. Jerger, How Our Ancestors Died by Simon Wills, They Died From What Illnesses? by Ilene Kanfer Murray, and many more.

You can also use FamilySearch’s Research Wiki to discover more on medical terminology as well as when states and countries began recording death record information.

Using these resources, you will be able to answer questions like the one posed earlier. The “white plague” was another name for tuberculosis. What are some interesting medical terms you’ve run across with your genealogy research?

Nicole S.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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