Birth & death record of an infant #usa #records

Malcolm Blier

In the 1910 NYC census, my grandmother was listed under # of children/ # of children living as 1 and zero, meaning she had a child but either it was a stillbirth or died in infancy. They were married in June 6, 1909. The census was in late April, 1910. Figure that the baby, if it came to term, would likely have been born sometime in March, 1910. I requested a death record - I did not look for a birth record figuring the death certificate would contain all the info. They did not find one. That would imply a miscarriage. But I wonder why my grandmother would want to report a something like that. I can tell you these were very private people. Perhaps she didn't understand the distinction in the question. I've been thinking, if he/ she had a name, it shouldn't be lost to posterity.

Would birth certificates be more reliable/ available than death certificates? Also, NYC does not have birth certificates scanned after 1910. There is a private entity that has taken over non-publicly accessible records for NYC - the name escapes me at the moment - but I read that they can be unreliable. Anyone have any experience with them?


Malcolm Blier
Lexington MA

Places: USA - NY, Boston, Cleveland; Europe - Przeworsk, Bartfeld, Vilnius, Gotborg

Marshall Lerner

Because of spread of disease concerns in a densely populated urban setting in the early 20th century, NYC had strict reporting requirements when it came to vital records. As a result, yes, there should be both a birth & death record of any infant who passed after birth. Those records can be found at the NYC Municipal Archives The archives can send you a copy of a birth and/or death certificate provided you can provide them with specific enough information to locate the file. I believe that a fee will be charged for their services. They can also do this for marriage records.

I have located certificates of family members who lost a child either because of a still birth or a death in infancy. As I recall, I first became aware of these deaths in the course of research on the Family Search website and in the course of visiting & searching through files at the NYC Municipal Archives location based on clues from my genealogy research or happenstance (e.g. a birth record led me to a death record, etc.)

I think you may have an easier time finding a death record than a birth record because of the way health care was delivered in the early 20th century. Most children were born at home with the assistance of midwives and the reporting of those births were often done in batch, if at all. And that also introduces another element of some confusion in our own research efforts -- inconsistent birth date reporting. Which birthdate would someone report in a subsequent record -- the date of birth when a child arrived into this word or the date when their birth was finally registered by the midwife?

Good luck with your research.
Marshall Lerner
West Chester, PA

Lerner or Beitel from Brecini; Sternberg or Steinberg from Khotin; Gherbel or Gabel from Darabani & Bucharest; Eisenberg & Markowitz from Roman or Tirgu Neamt
Smoler from Zhitomir; Hodes from Lodz; Pachter from Wolbrom or Kielce


My grandmother's first child was a stillborn girl, born about 1915-16 in Manhattan. A cousin found the record on a list of stillborn infant burials in, I believe, Staten Island. I'm sorry that I don't know what source he used, but I think stillborn records would be found at the NY Municipal Archives mentioned in another post. In determining what happened to the infant, consider family lore with many grains of salt. My uncle was convinced that the baby froze to death while my grandmother was being attended to. Obviously, that is unlikely indoors and no decent midwife or doctor would allow that to happen. 
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

EdrieAnne Broughton

This is a non-Jewish response.  My mother and her young sister were just toddlers when their mother gave birth during a late spring blizzard in 1926-1928.  Their father was a miner/mine union organizer in the Western US and was away from the remote mining town looking for work.  My grandmother had been collecting coal that fell from the train but the deep snow, cold and recent birth prevented that.  Lester died at 6 days old, apparently from the my mother related the story.  Lester's birth and death weren't recorded...I've checked.  Lester was transported downhill to Fraser, Colorado where the ground wasn't frozen for burial.  My grandmother and aunt tried to find it and as near as they could figure a road was paved over the majority of the graves.  We tried to find the answers to these questions long before my grandmother died but no luck.  Sometimes we can't solve all our mysteries.  
EdrieAnne Broughton, Vacaville, CA.