Stillborn as a coded event type

One of the custom event types I created was Stillborn.

When I found a record for a stillborn child, I was always going back to find out how I handled other occurrences. Did I enter them with both Birth and Death events, only one event and which one. A lot of the inconsistency was a result of all the various ways that the events were recorded by the various locales, each doing it differently. And I am sure for some locales these records have been shunted off to a different filing cabinet never to be accessed again.

And compound this with the various ways that families deal with these occurrences. Some of these children are named while granted, most are not and then some are buried in the family plot with markers.

So I created the single custom event Stillborn which gets cited with whatever documentation I find…

The problem was that Stillborn was not recognized as an alternate event similar to baptism and burial so these dates were not displayed in lists when Birth and Death events are absent., So I looked through the code and added Stillborn as a set event type and added it as an alternate event for both Birth and Death.

Having just modified the 5.1.2 code to handle my change, I am wondering if I should make a Feature Request. I searched the mailing lists and the issue has been rarely discussed and I do not know if the this has been discussed at the developer level.

Yes? No? Thoughts?


I would be in favor of that, as I use a custom Stillbirth event. I’d want a stillbirth event to count as both a birth event and a death event. But how to handle that in things like aging reports is tricky because the infant aren’t generally considered as having been born.


I just exported a family that amazingly has 5 stillborn children to its own database. Aside from a few reports that I print for myself as I do my research, my main report is the NarrWeb that I send to cousins.

If there is a report you’re interested in, I’ll test it on this small family.

I’d also prefer a stillborn event type, especially since currently the death event is usually just a copy of the birth event data of a stillborn child. To make it work well as a single event, probably most reports, views, event filter rules and imports/exports need to be changed.

It is an interesting approach.

I often wonder how to make Gramps aware enough that certain Life Event Types are inextricably linked. Aware enough that reports will list them by either Type but without redundantly entering info or having it redundantly be listed in biographies.

The other examples that pop to mind are:

KIA (Killed In Action) - where there is a causal or genealogical linkage between Death, Cause of Death, Vocational:Military Service, and possibly Medical Information… all with a Primary Role.

Multiple Births - where there is a linkage between Primary role Persons. I currently ‘share’ the Birth event for the Twins/Triplets (no Quads or greater in my Trees… so far). Although my Description for the Birth event strays from the manual in that I note the Multiple level, birth order (if known) & idiosyncracies: “Twins: Jane (1st, ambulance) & John (2nd, hospital, stillborn) Smith”. (Haven’t dealt with labor that spanned calendar periods: day/month/year/century - like 31 Dec 1899 23:40 & 1 Jan 1900 00:15) Unfortunately, although Multiple Births are HIGHLY notable (genealogically - because twins are often merged or have records linked to wrong twin/trip & genetically - because multiples run in family lines) Gramps has no facility to recognize the notability.

Maternal Morbidity - where the birth of the child & death of the mother are linked. As is the Cause of Death for the mother. (Logged 2 incidents of Paternal Morbidity so far: one caused a stress induced medical death; the other due to a panic induced accident)

This is a usage discussion with varying opinions.
What are the past and current definitions of stillbirth? (1 in 45 births are stillborn - wow!)
Births and deaths on the same day - how many variations are possible? Some babies emerge with an almost instantaneous scream and then survive, while other births are ominous requiring external intervention that is not always successful.
In my opinion, the declaration of the death is separate from the birth declaration. They are two events In this situation, I would, treat the events separately, share the the date and put “Stillborn” in the description. Any change to the date would be reflected in both events.
Reporting could be awkward. The single event stillbirth would need to be considered as both a birth and a death.


The way I have configured this for myself, the single Stillborn event gets listed as both the birth and death alternative events when those events are not present. This is the same as a baptism is listed as a alternate birth event in lists or burial date for deaths when those events are missing.

This is an unknown. For the reports I use, the single event is handled as expected. But these are list type of reports, not statistical.

I believe it is a singular event. Some of the confusion comes with the various ways locales document it. Some locales have birth certificates where the question is asked is this a live birth or stillborn. In this occurrence, there is no death certificate but even this is not always so.

Admittedly, I created the Stillborn type as a simplification for myself ensuring a consistency in data entry.


There is also the Cause of Death event type.

But this has the same issue about not being universally shown in Reports or consistently transferable through GEDCOM.

These are some of the questions that would need to be explored. So far list type reports handle it okay. One report that does not handle it is the Family Group report. But that is a report looking for the specific event types.

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I recently documented a birth where the child lived for 5 minutes. I entered this as the two events. The Birth certificate stated it was a live birth. The death cert said the age at death was 5 minutes.


I have never understood why this is an event. But the event is coded as one of the alternative death events.


I think “cause of death” is defined as an event somewhere else (maybe GEDCOM?) and Gramps kept it that way.

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It is helpful that it (as well as the Burial & Cremation Event) is associated with a Death Event. Apparently, the Death-related status limits the restrictions of the the “Probably Alive” privacy feature. It also shows that year in italics in places a Death year would be shows if the Death Event is completely missing. (A Death Event with a NULL Date still overrides all those benefits. Evidently, that where you can indicate that an unknown is better than a guess.)

It’s similar to how any Baptism & Christening Events are used to compensate for a missing Birth Event.

Perhaps your Stillborn implementation could be used leveraging the functionality for BOTH a missing Birth & Death Event???

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My eyes skipped over that in your initial description.

Rather than a feature request, maybe you should put your Stillborn modification in for Code Review. You’ve already built it, so it just needs validating.

Hello Dave,

I recently documented a birth where the child lived for 5 minutes. I
did entered this as the two events. The Birth certificate stated it was
a live birth. The death cert said the age at death was 5 minutes.

You may already kn ow this but, here goes…

In England and Wales, if even one breath was drawn, then there must be
separate birth and death events recorded. If the child drew no breath
at all, then a stillborn event occurred and must be recorded as such.
These stillbirth events are kept separate from regular births and
deaths, and the register is closed (can’t buy copies). This was not
always the case, however. In the early days of civil registration,
stillbirths could just as easily go unrecorded.

In the normal run of things, therefore, it’s quite hard to prove a
stillbirth occurred. One would need information from a person that knew
of the stillbirth. Not easy for an event that occurred (say) 100 years

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Unfortunately, it would take more than just my code modification.

There is the major issue of translations.Then having reports recognize the event. I already know the Family Group Report does not recognize it. It has been a while since I ran a Book report where appropriate wording is added to ‘round’ out the entry. As I stated, my three go-to reports are the Complete Individual and the Family Sheet for my research needs and then the Narrative Web that I send to cousins. These reports handle the modification.

I am willing to help see what the issues are but it would need more thinking about the code than I am able to do. Hence raising the issue here first.

Is there enough interest to even ask the developers to undertake the endeavor?

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There are many relatives that have the same birth and death date. Unless I find an actual document stating that it was a stillbirth (or contemporaneous family history), I leave the record as two separate events.

And yes, more often than not, some of those missing documentations about stillbirths where shunted off to a separate filling cabinet never to be accessed again. But there are some records available. It was because these are rare, I was always having to go find a previous record to see how I had handled previous entries. Creating the custom type was my attempt to simplify the process.

I posted here to see if others see the need for this enhancement and asking the developers to make the effort. As I stated earlier, it is more work than making the changes that I have made for myself.


It seems like a reasonable suggestion to me.

Hello Dave,

I posted here to see if others see the need for this enhancement and

To have Gramps recognise stillbirth as birth/death is definitely a good
idea, IMO. As you say though, it’s not as simple as it first appears.

The reason it hadn’t occurred to me is because I have no stillbirths in
my tree as yet.