Re: : Inclusion of Stillbirths & Adopted Infants in NYC Birth Index? #general

Ira Leviton

Dear Cousins,

Deborah Dworski asked a multi-part question that's too complicated for me to
paraphrase, so I copied it below. I'm answering only the parts that I can, and
trying not to speculate.

If a baby was listed in the birth index, then it wasn't a stillborn. In New York
City, stillborns have been listed in the death index since the late 1930's (I'm
going >from memory, so I can't be more precise for the year), and only in a separate
section that follows the indices for the five boroughs. If the baby lived, and
even took only one breath, then both a birth certificate and a death certificate
were issued, with the death listed in the regular death index for that borough
until they went to a citywide listing.

If the baby was adopted, then things can get complicated. Nobody was removed >from
the birth indices, but names could be changed. The name recorded in the index
should be the same as on the birth certificate. So an adoption at birth or very
shortly afterward should get recorded with the name that the adoptive parents gave
the baby. The birth certificate could also be reissued if the name was changed,
say several weeks or months later, with the original version kept under seal
according to state law. In that case, the original name could disappear >from the
index, but the adoptive name would then appear. But an adoption that occurred
well after the birth, say the following year, after the index had been printed,
might result in a name appearing in the index but no birth certificate with that

There are many babies that are named just "boy" or "girl," because the baby wasn't
named by the time the birth certificate was completed. In this case, it sounds
like Deborah is keeping an open mind that it could have been because the baby was
adopted so the biological parents didn't name it, or it died before being named.
For the latter, she should look at stillbirths at the end of the death index for


Ira Leviton

Deborah Dworski wrote:
Online access to the 1957 NYC birth index has yielded the discovery of a surprise
baby who clearly belongs on my family tree due to the unusual surname. She is only
listed as "baby girl." Pondering possible explanations of this finding has led to
more general questions about the database...

Join to automatically receive all group messages.