|Introduction to Genealogy|
Birth records are primary source records because they are completed at, or close to, the time of the birth by someone who was present at the birth. A birth certificate is usually signed by the doctor or midwife who attended the birth, though that is not always the case. Privacy laws often make birth records the most difficult vital records to obtain.
In general, there are three types of birth certificates:
Original - the record filed at birth
Amended - a birth record which has been revised from the original to reflect corrections or new information
Delayed - a certificate issued years after the birth because an original birth certificate was not filed.
What information will a birth certificate provide? This will vary widely by location and time period. In general, vital records forms usually allow space for the following information but are not consistently filled in by the users.
Birth records usually contain:
name of child
race of child
gender of child
date and place of birth
mother's name (sometimes including maiden name)
and may contain:
mother's age, race, occupation and place of birth
father's age, race, occupation and place of birth
number of children in family
number this child is in family
witnesses to the birth
The information about the birth itself is usually provided by
the attending physician or midwife and can be considered a primary source.
Information about the parents, other children, etc. is usually provided by the
parents and isn't quite as reliable as it is provided years after the events
Next page > Marriage Records
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