Re: Help requested - death certificate for an infant #general
Lisa Dashman is searching for a death certificate of an infant >from
1918 in the Bronx, N.Y. She knows the cemetery where the baby and
the mother, who died >from complications of the delivery two days
later, were buried, and also knows the hospital that was involved.
Lisa mentioned that the child was stillborn, and I respond that
that's the reason she can't find the death certificate. There were
no fetal death certificates in the U.S. before 1939. Until then,
the logic was that you needed a birth certificate to have a death
certificate. In 1939 the national recommendations changed, to
create a separate "Standard Certificate of Stillbirth (fetal death)"
and although I forget the year New York started to issue them, it
may have been that same year. Maybe somebody who has been to the
main branch of the New York Public Library recently remembers the
year that the N.Y.C. death indices start to include fetal deaths in
the back. New York City and State currently have a "Fetal Death
Certificate," and since 2011 a separate "Certificate of Still Birth."
Some historical information about fetal death certificates is at
For decades in the U.S., standards for birth and death certificates
and the type of information that they're supposed to include have
been issued and periodically revised. The Center for Disease Control
issues these standards nowadays, and the current standard for fetal
deaths is at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/FDEATH11-03finalACC.pdf .
This is a template on which states are supposed to base their
information, although formatting varies widely. There are similar
standards for birth and regular death certificates.
Lisa reported that the hospital had no records >from that far back.
Hospitals almost never have patient records more than about 25 years
old, and that's only for children's records, which have to be
maintained longer than those of adults. If they have something 100
years old, it's generally for something historically interesting, not
But after saying all this, I confess that I don't know how a transit
permit for a stillborn child's body was issued in New York City in
1918, or what was even required.
Regards to all,
New York, N.Y.