March 20, 2009

Death in 1926 Bexar County, Texas: An Un-Scientific Poll

The other day I was poking around in the Texas Death Certificates, and sort of got sucked into a straw poll of causes of death.

I had randomly browsed to Bexar County in 1926 and from there down to an individual record. Once I was at a record I used the filmstrip to randomly select images and see the kinds of things that were included. It wasn't long before I noticed some interesting things and some simple trends in the cause of death field.

My random sample painted a pretty clear picture of the progress that has been made in medicine since 1926. Some of the more common causes of death have been so effectively treated in the US that I didn't even recognize them. For example, Pellagra, which showed up frequently in my straw poll, is a disease related to a vitamin deficiency which was at epidemic levels in the South in 1926, but doesn't get much press today.

The most common causes of death I saw in Bexar County in 1926 were:
  • Various types of Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Premature birth
  • Colitis
  • Kidney problems
I was surprised to find several people in my small sample who were killed by trains and even a few who were killed in automobile accidents.

The oldest person I came across? Justa Baron who died of "Unknown Natural Causes" at the age of 108.

Justa Baron dies of "Unknown Natural Causes" at the age of 108

No comments: