Saturday, March 12, 2011

Delayed Birth Certificates

It is important to remember that when you are looking at the information on a delayed birth certificate, that it is secondary information, not primary.  Even though there usually needs to be a witness who was present at the birth, the fact that the certificate was not made in a timely manner, means it is still secondary information.  Plus, considering how long after the birth a delayed certificate might be made, it can be doubtful the witness was actually there.

One example of an interesting delayed birth certificate is that of my great-grandfather, William Herbert Whitehead.  Born 29 Sept 1896, his birth certificate was not created until 1940, 44 years later.  The witness is Albert E. Smith, uncle.  However, he was not his uncle, but rather his family friend... and bookie (according to my grandmother, William's daughter, who knew Al).  As such, this is not the most reliable record source.

In a case such as this, it is important to confirm the birth date with other sources.  One of these sources I looked at was his baptism.  This took place in 1904 and the birth date listed was the same.

I also checked the 1900 census, taken even closer to his actual birth date and this had his birth as taking place in September 1896, which is also consistent with the birth certificate.



1900 U.S. census, Erie, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, enumeration district (ED) 53, sheet 9B, p. 7-224 (stamped), dwelling 133, family 258, household of Charles Whitehead; digital images, ( : accessed 26 Feb 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1026.

New York Department of Health, birth certificate 366803 (1940), William Herbert Whitehead; New York State Department of Health, Albany; Birth certifcate was created 44 years after his birth.  Reported by Albert E. Smith, Uncle.  He was actually a family friend (and bookie).

Whitehead baptismal entry (1904); issued 2004 by Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, St. James Episcopal (Buffalo, New York), citing p. 108, number 3497; privately held by Amanda Perrine, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE].



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