Use of the term "Color" in late 19th century and Early 20th century NYC Birth Records #records


Yehuda Berman
 

None of my immediate relatives were born in the US so I cannot comment directly. But on the early 20th century census form of my uncle (whose skin color was light brown) his "race" (sic) was listed as Hebrew. When I was growing up, "white"  was synonymous with "white anglo-saxon protestant". Sometime around World War II Italians, Poles, Jews, etc. were admitted into the "white" category.  And when I was growing up, we still divided the world into Jews, blacks ("colored"), and whites.
--
Yehuda Berman


Sherri Bobish
 

Vicki,

Here is an explanation:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_Service_Act_of_1917
"Draft board officials were told to tear off the lower left-hand corner of the Selective Service form of a black registrant, indicating his designation for segregated units."

Regards,

Sherri Bobish


vicki.peisner@...
 

I noticed on my grandfather’s WWI enlistment record that on the lower left side it said to tear here if the registrant was of African Descent.  


Vicki Renert Freed Peisner
researching: Siegfried, Korshinsky, Renert, Talsky, Bernstein, Wallach, Newman, Feldstein, Gelman in Galicia, Kiev, Romania, Poland, Austria  


David Harrison
 

This is obviously a completely different practice to any that I have met in Britain, Ireland (or The Netherlands) where the Mother or Father goes to the Registrars' office within a period that has varied over time and country, to report the birth, the date and name of the child .  In some rural areas in winter, this may be months later.  it is not unknown for the Certificate to have been issued from an office in an area adjacent to that in which the child was born, because that town had shops or a market that was closer to the residence where the baby was born.
David Harrison
Birmingham, England


From: main@... <main@...> on behalf of Sherri Bobish <sherribob@...>
Sent: 23 April 2021 17:03
To: main@... <main@...>
Subject: Re: [JewishGen.org] Use of the term "Color" in late 19th century and Early 20th century NYC Birth Records #records
 
Steve,

Any time I have seen "color" as a category on a birth (and sometimes marriage) record it does refer to race.

I've seen forms that asked for description of complexion, however that is different from "color."  Complexion might be described as ruddy or fair, etc.

Many births were attended by midwifes, and many were barely literate and/or their English was limited.  It may be that the midwife did not understand the question. 

I do not know if most NYC birth certs were written out by the midwife, or by a clerk.  That would be an interesting thing to find out.

It may be that a clerk just made an error, or misunderstood what the midwife said, or the midwife simply did not understand the question.

Regards,

Sherri Bobish


Sherri Bobish
 

Steve,

Any time I have seen "color" as a category on a birth (and sometimes marriage) record it does refer to race.

I've seen forms that asked for description of complexion, however that is different from "color."  Complexion might be described as ruddy or fair, etc.

Many births were attended by midwifes, and many were barely literate and/or their English was limited.  It may be that the midwife did not understand the question. 

I do not know if most NYC birth certs were written out by the midwife, or by a clerk.  That would be an interesting thing to find out.

It may be that a clerk just made an error, or misunderstood what the midwife said, or the midwife simply did not understand the question.

Regards,

Sherri Bobish


sbloom@...
 

I have noticed the term "Color" used in Late 19th century and Early 20th Century birth records of New York City. Since I have only seen two such records up close for my relatives, I can't make general conclusions. For one of my cousins, George Schaffran, it gives "Color" as "White ." For another relative, William Bloom/Blum, who by dna tests I know was of Eastern European Jewish extraction, it says he was "Colored."  

In such records, is this term referring to what we commonly think of as "race" today?  If so, is "Colored" categorizing a person into what we would commonly think of as a "Person of Color" today, such as Black/African American. Afro-European, etc., Asian, Hispanic and others, or is the term meant to be more general?  Some of my relatives now are saying that since many people didn't consider Jews of that time  to be really White, they would have no problem calling them "Colored" on a birth record. I have my doubts about that.

I'd appreciate opinions on this, no to much on that last matter, but on whether NYC records of that time tended to call Jews "White", "Colored" or something else. 

Thank you for your insights,

Steve Bloom
Central Virginia, USA