NYC Births/Midwives/Census Age Certificates #general

Lynne Shapiro <lynneshap@...>

To Paula Spier and Discussion Group,

I am fairly certain that birth certificates were used as proof of school
entering age in NYC early this century. Parents who did not have a birth
certificate for a child had to get another document to prove the child's
age - often something called a Census Age Certificate. I saw many of
these in taking Social Security claims for 60 somethings about 20 - 25
years ago in NYC, and my own mother, born in 1914 with no birth recorded,
had one. They simply stated a child's name and date of birth, as I
recall, on a document that was maybe 6" across and 5" down. People often
told me they needed to get the document to be registered in school. What
I don't know and don't remember having known is the source of the
information on the form. Since federal census records of that era
usually just stated an age for a child, I wonder if the information was
from the NYS census (?) I'd be interested in any knowledgable input on
that one.

As for the reason a "poor tailor and his wife" had an MD instead of a
midwife, one can only speculate. Perhaps the MD was a landsman who knew
the family well. Or the woman may have had medical problems that made
the family decide an M.D. was best. Or maybe someone she knew or herself
for a previous birth had a bad experience with a poorly trained midwife.

Lynne Shapiro
Western Ma.

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