One of the most important matters involved in the administration of a registration office is the selection and proper use of a statistical classification of causes of death. The mortality from various diseases must be known in order that the value of methods adopted by sanitary officers for their prevention and restriction may be appreciated, and it is important for many reasons that accurate and fully comparable statistics of causes of death be published. This presupposes the use of some classification of causes of death.
It may be said that the use of a formal classification is unnecessary, as the causes returned by physicians might be stated in alphabetical order. This would be possible for only the smallest areas of registration, and for short periods of time. For a large city, a state, or for the country as a whole, the number of different terms returned as causes of death