JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Birth certificates #general

Pamela Weisberger <thewks@...>

In recent postings regarding birth certificates, several genners have
provided information on how these documents were filled out. I'd like to
hear >from anyone who knows additional information on the procedures for
reporting births in the United States, especially in the larger cities,
from the 1880s through the 1920s.
-Was there a time requirement by which one had to report a birth,
especially a home (versus hospital) birth?

-On several birth certificates >from that era I've found that the birth was
reported by a woman, with a Jewish (but unfamiliar to me) surname,
indicating that she might have been a midwife (or neighbor?) but not a
relative. Who usually did this reporting?

-Was a NYC birth certificate filled out in the hand of the person doing
the reporting, or by a city official taking down verbal information?

-Did most Jewish women avail themselves of midwives at that time? And if
the person witnessing the birth was requred to report it, is this why the
husbands (fathers of the chidren) were not the ones usually doing the

-Does there exist any written guidelines >from this era (>from New York
City, for example) in which the requirements for reporting a birth are

These answers--along with those already provided by some genners-- would
be useful in analyzing information on these certificates. On one I
obtained , my grandmother's date of birth was off by three weeks >from what
my mother swore she remembered it being. On closer examination, I saw
that the "reporting" date was identical to the given "birth date." At
that point I realized it must have been a clerical error (or mental
lapse) since it was unlikely that a birth would have been reported on the
same day it occured, yet if i had gone only by the birth index I would
have been confused or misled. Also on this certificate, by great-
grandfather was listed only with an inital "B" instead of a first
name...probably because the person doing the reporting had forgotten the
name or was unsure. On another certificate the surname of (what I
believe to be) "Kempner" was reported as "Kafner," so...these documents
are useful guides in our searches, but not the final, absolute word.

Still... any further information would be much appreciated,
including any written resources on this topic, as well as information on
the role of midwives at this time period.

Thank you!

Pamela Weisberger
Santa Monica, CA

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