delayed birth certificate

Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.

A delayed birth certificate is one that is filed at some point in time, usually much later, after the original date of the event. In the United States, the civil registration of births, deaths, and marriages was not required 1908, and even then, it took some time before the requirement was widely practiced. Those whose births are registered at the time of birth can obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate; thus, certifying or proving their true date and place of birth, and parentage. Before civil registration, births were typically recorded by the church or by the family in Family Bibles. A provision was made in many states allowing those whose birth was either not recorded or was recorded incorrectly to file for a delayed birth certificate, which could be certified in the same manner as a regular birth certificate. Those filing for a delayed birth certificate were required to produce proof of their identify, along with satisfactory documentation regarding the details of their birth such as one or more affidavits from persons having first-hand knowledge of the birth -- one's mother, for example.

Because they document births that occurred before civil registration, delayed birth certificates are a valuable resource in genealogy, and if the record repository includes the information used to verify and document the birth, all the better. Although not everyone eligible filed for a delayed birth certificate, many found it necessary for a variety of reasons. One may have had to show proof of birth in order to claim an inheritance, for example; or a child may not have been named when the birth was registered, and later needed to prove his or her identity; or there may have been an error on the original birth certificate. Delayed birth certificates are generally researched and obtained in the same way as a regular birth certificate, usually through a state registrar.

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