Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Birth Certificates

Birth certificates have gone big time. Everyone wants to see your birth certificate. Like genealogists they see them as accurate proof of birth.

I am looking at a certificate of birth issued by the State of Illinois. Dwight H. Green was Governor. I know, just as trivia, he was the governor before Adlai Stevenson so that gives me a date range and sure enough, it was issued in 1947. 

It was created at the county level. I personally knew every person who is named at that level and am familiar with their signatures. I know therefore that it is a transcript of the actual certificate and the signatures are not real. While I would think that would be obvious just looking at it you just never know who has questions.

The birth, however, took place in the prior century. Nowhere on the document does it say "delayed" or other term that would indicate same.

The father's birthplace, city, is not listed and the state is wrong. The mother's birthplace, city, is not listed. The person giving the information states: "I HEREBY CERTIFY that I had actual knowledge of the facts as stated in this RECORD OF BIRTH at the time the birth occurred, and know them to be be true; and that I am related to this person as mother and that I am at least one year older."

The "I am at least one year older" always amuses me. One year olds have "actual knowledge of the the time the birth occurred..." Really?

So we have the person and her mother and then the Notary Public who attests to all this. The Notary is the signer's youngest son. 

The informant, who is the mother, doesn't know exactly where she was born and she is wrong about even the state of her husband's birth. All of the persons who signed off at the county level are members of the same family. No other person signed off on it at the county level. It went to the state and was duly issued. 

Why do we think birth certificates are reliable sources?

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