Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Presque Isle Co - 1918 Death Records Transcribed!

If you check out my post from last week with the records from Alpena, you'll see what I'm trying to accomplish here by transcribing the 1918 death records for Alpena and Presque Isle Counties...for now I'll avoid repeating myself!

To see the database of 148 death certificates for PI County from 1918, please go here.  I extracted a lot of good data like first/last/maiden name, death date, age, name of parents, and cause of death, but to see the whole certificate and additional info, visit Seeking Michigan and search.  Death certificates are available from 1897-1920.

Here are the stats for Presque Isle County, during the year of the infamous influenza epidemic:

Total Deaths - 148

Accidental - 4 (3%)
Cancer - 5 (3%) *today cancer accounts for over 20% of deaths in the US
Heart Disease - 13 (9%) *today, heart disease accounts for nearly 25% of US deaths
Influenza - 25 (17%) *much lower than Alpena/national averages which were around 35%
Other Diseases (Scarlet Fever, Typhoid Fever, Cholera, Meningitis, etc) - 15 (10%)
Tuberculosis - 12 (8%)
Suicide - 2
Infants - 51 (34%)

In comparing these numbers to those of Alpena County, a few things stand out.  First, the dramatically lower number of influenza-related deaths.  Could this be because of the lower population density and fewer outside visitors?  Perhaps.  It could also be that, in the more rural Presque Isle County, fewer deaths were actually reported.  One thing I definitely attribute to PI County's much higher rate of infant death is the rural location and lack of medical or sanitary resources nearby.

In the Victorian Age, there was a huge disparity between urban and rural populations, and the difference in available technologies and medical care was great.  For example, Alpena and Presque Isle townships didn't even have electricity until the late 1930s, when Alpena Electric Light Company had already been serving Alpena since 1881.  Also, very few in the farming community had automobiles at that time, denying them access to McRae Hospital in Alpena.  Contrary as it sounds, very few farmers at that time even had horses, which were a luxury.  Many farmers could only afford the more practical option of oxen, which could help with farm labor. Unless a qualified medical professional was in walking distance of those in peril, they were usually on their own, in a time when there was no internet, virtually no farmers had a secondary education, and very little medical information was available to the rural public.