Birth certificates contain all the important information that pertains to the birth of an individual. The Birth certificates usually contains:
For the Child Documented by the Birth Certificate
- Birth Name of Individual
- Birth Date and Time of Individual
- Birth Place of Individual
- Sex of Individual
- Birth Hospital
For the Mother Documented by the Birth Certificate
- Mothers Full Name, Including Maiden Name
- Mother’s Birth Place
- Term of Residence in the Community
- Term of Pregnancy
- Marital Status
- Number of Other Living Children
- Number of Other Deceased Children
- Number of Children Born Dead
For the Father Documented by the Birth Certificate
- Father’s Full Name
- Father’s Birth Place
Identification Uses for Birth Certificates
Birth Certificates have many uses throughout someone’s life. Most uses of birth certificates revolve around identification purposes:
- The first common use for a birth certificate is to register for school.
- Most youth sports league require a birth certificate for registration
- A birth certificate is required to get a drivers licenses or identification card
- To obtain a passport a birth certificate is needed
- A birth certificate is needed to register for a marriage license
- Many times new employers request a birth certificate
Genealogy Uses for Birth Certificates
Birth Certificates are some of the most important documents for genealogy research. Birth certificates are primary sources of information about the beginning of someone’s life. Usually a birth certificate is created within a few days of the birth and the information found on the birth certificate is given by a witness of the birth. Due to the timeliness of the creation of the birth certificate and the testimony of a directly involved witness, a birth certificate is a
very reliable source of information about the birth.
Birth certificates contain valuable information about the individual whose birth it documents, but it also provides valuable information about the mother and father. Sometimes information that has been missing before can be found on a birth certificate and provide valuable clues to adding branches to a family tree.
Though every step is taken to make the birth certificate as correct as possible, mistakes can still be made. This is truer of earlier birth certificates when the birth certificate creation process was more disorganized. Even if a birth certificate is not complete, it may contain very valuable information to add to a family tree. Family records are a great starting place to find individuals whose birth certificates might be of great importance to a family tree. Such family records include:
- Family Bibles
- Family Record Books
- Family Letters and Other Correspondences
History of Birth Certificates
Due to the strong ties of the American Colonies to Britain, early American settlers applied British laws and customs to recording of birth certificates. Before the 19th Century, churches maintained records of christenings for their congregants in the American Colonies and all European countries. Because of this historical context most early American birth certificates or information is only found in church records. Eventually, some American Colonies required churches to report birth events and information to civil authorities. As a result birth information is reported by both civil and church recorded in some locations. Eventually, some colonies, primarily those in New England, passed laws to requiring local governments to record and maintain birth certificates. Massachusetts was the most advanced in colony in regards to birth registration.
In the 19th Century many British and European countries began maintaining birth certificates on a national level but the United States was much slower in creating government mandates for birth certificate regulation and has never adopted a national registry.