Late birth registrations #poland #records

Alex Guri

Hi all,

I've encountered some birth records that were registered years after
the birth had actually happened. Was it not mandatory to register a
birth? Did it cost money to do it? Why not register it in the first
place? and then why suddenly decide to register a few years later?

Many thanks and happy Pesach!
Alex Guri

Herbert Lazerow

     Before the 1920s, most births occurred at home. Different jurisdictions had different ways to assure that births were registered, but none was foolproof. Philadelphia required the midwife or doctor to register it, and those lists can be found in the City Archives, but sometimes they forgot to do it.
    Sometimes the lack of registration was caught when the child entered school at age 6.  When my mother requested a passport at age 54, she could not present a birth certificate; the passport office accepted an affidavit from her father of her birth in the U.S., stating the date and city.
Herbert Lazerow
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110 U.S.A.
(619)260-4597 office, (858)453-2388 cell, lazer@...
Author: Mastering Art Law (2d ed. Carolina Academic Press 2020)

Herbert Lazerow
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110
Author: Mastering Art Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2d ed. 2020)

Barbara Ellman

Not all shtetls had an official registrar.  If the town1 didn't have a registrar, it would require travel to the town2 where the official registrar for town1 was. 
Since this effort usually fell to the father who couldn't afford the time to spend doing this, the registration may have taken place when more than one child had to be registered.
Barbara Ellman
Secaucus NJ USA
ELLMAN, COIRA, MAIDMAN - Minkovtsy, Ukraine
KAGLE, FASS - Ulanow, Poland


I've encountered more than a few late (or very late) birth registrations in metrical records for my ancestors in Congress Poland.  My maternal grandmother was registered nine months after her actual birth -- registered on the same day as her sister, who was three years older.  One of my male ancestors in that same line was registered 15 years after his birth.  The registering clerk would acknowledge that the record was late, but generally no explanation was provided.

For males, a late registration was one method of avoiding the draft.

Joel Novis
Springfield, MA US
NOVITSKIY (Kyiv, Vasil'kiv, Ukraine); OLSZTAJN/OHLSTEIN (Łowicz, Łódź, Stryków, Poland); GEIMAN [HYMAN] (Ashmyany, Belarus)

Jill Whitehead

In the old country this was done to avoid the Tsar's draft into his army in the Pale of Settlement. My great grandfather's brother Baruch Serwianski (later Barnet Servian or Barnet Silverman in UK and even later Barnet Maxwell in US) was born in Sejny, NE Poland, in Dec 1854 or Jan 1855, but his birth was not registered until 1859.

Migrants were so suspicious of officialdom, that  when my ancestors came to the UK in the 1860s and 1870s (which was after the Polish uprising when the Tsar cracked down) that some of them appeared to deliberately record births on dates that were different to the actual dates. I never knew my grandmother Hannah/Annie Abraham's actual date of birth (she was born and died in Manchester, UK),  as she claimed she was born on 31st October 1875, but the UK official GRO birth records show she was born six months later in 1876, and her school records give another date of birth in between the two.

On another side of the family, some of my grandmother Leah Guttenberg's siblings' GRO official birth records clearly do not match their actual birth records in Hull, UK, as my great grandparents' announcements in the Jewish Chronicle for the boy' births (there were 7 boys and 5 girls) clearly predate their official birth records, although this is only by a few weeks or a couple of months, rather than an extended period. This was during the 1870's also. 

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK

Sally Bruckheimer

Sometimes registering a birth wasn't done because many babies died, so why bother. Male babies could be drafted later, of course, outside the Kingdom of Poland, as young as 8. Things changed over time, and after WW I, hordes of couples i the new Poland married civilly which was previously either very expensive or banned for Jews, and they had 'legitimized' their kids, maybe 10 or more. But births were recorded when a birth record was needed.

A cousin of mine needed a birth record for law school in the US. She had one made in Russia, a delayed birth record, and sent here.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

Michael Hoffman

My cousin the late John Shamrock registered his son birth 3 years late in (1960) in the UK, and the birth certificate say registered on the Authority of the Register General. Birth Registrations in England & Wales should be registered up to 42 days after birth, otherwise it is a criminal offence not to doe so.

Michael Hoffman


Adelle Gloger

My paternal grandmother, Sarah Golde Lorber, was born in Tarnopol in 1873. Her birth was not officially registered until 1891 before she married so that she could use her father's last name and that her birth would then be legitimate.
Also, her parents, Joseph Lorber & Rivke Kasten, registered their marriage with the civil authorities at the same time.
Adelle Weintraub Gloger
Cleveland, Ohio

Mike Coleman

Hello Michael,

Registration of births became compulsory in England and Wales only in 1875.


Mike Coleman   London (formerly Borehamwood) U.K.

David Levine


Was your ancestor born in Galicia?
Austria made it very difficult for Jews to register marriages and births. There was a tax involved in the hopes that less Jews would marry and reproduce.

Therefore, Jewish records were kept by the community far more than the official state authorities in Galicia.

When they needed to transact something that involved the state - say an inheritance - they would register with the result being these much-later-after-the-fact records.


Best Regards,
David Levine
San Francisco, CA, USA
Weinstein -> Solotwina, Galicia | Frisch, Hilman, Jungerman, Schindler -> Rozniatow, Galicia | Golanski, Kramerofsky/Kromerovsky -> Kiev | Lefkowitz -> Petrikov, Belarus | Shub, Rosen Hlusk, Belarus | Levine, Weiner, Zamoshkin -> Slutsk, Belarus 


As one respondent noted, I have seen several instances where someone getting married registered their birth shortly before they got married. So it seems it would be a good thing to check for marriages sometime after a delayed birth record where the delay is at a time when a marriage might be taking place. And, I suppose, vice-versa. If you have a marriage and can't find the birth, maybe check for delayed birth registration some time just before the marriage.
Larry Bassist