JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen recording births in Boston 1909 #general

Herbert Lazerow

Anne wrote: <My father was born in the "Lying In Hospital" in Boston on April 1,
1909.... My question is - how were births recorded at the time? Did a person have
to show proof of identity or could any name be written down?>

I think your father was unusual for his time. It is my impression that most births
were home births at least into the 1920s, and that those births were recorded in
Boston by someone going door-to-door each year to inquire about births during the
year. That was obviously not necessary if the hospital reported the birth. Perhaps
someone whose memory of the Boston records is less hazy than mine can be more
certain about the answer.

As to identification, I do not think most people had any formal identification
papers. This was before drivers licenses were widespread. Passports were not yet
required. About the only official identification one might have in 1909 might have
been a naturalization certificate, and I would doubt that the hospital would ask a
newly delivered mother to show one-- especially since until the 1920s, a married
woman took the nationality of her husband.
Herbert Lazerow

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