Click Here to Receive New Posts
in Your Inbox

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

    Now Available

    Follow Me

    Entries in birth record (2)


    Fraud in the Family Archives!

    Citing a 'State Notification of Birth Registration'

    This document does a darn good imitation of pretending to be what it isn't. It isn't a Birth Certificate. It isn't a Birth Registration. It isn't a cute little hospital certificate.

    Obvious, my dear Watson, it's a Clue.

    It's supposed to be a Valuable Document (it says so right there on the reverse), but the most valuable thing about it is the typed information, not the Official-looking border or imprint. It won't get you a driver's license in California and it really won't get you a marriage license in Wisconsin.

    Might "look like a duck and quack like a duck" but it's still a turkey.

    It's a signpost to the Real-Deal State-Certified Official Birth Record. Follow the number in the upper right corner to the vitals vault to find the Original.

    All this to say that these State (and Bureau of the Census) issued "Notification of Birth Registration" notices are most likely unique items that will be found only in family collections. They can't be an image copy of an original, because the original is not the "Notification" but the actual "Birth Registration." These notices are more like a form letter, existing in one copy only. If this Notice were lost, the replacement would most likely be another form letter with instructions for ordering a copy of the Official Birth Registration.

    From the Bureau of the Census website

    The notification was completed and sent to parents of newborns when the state office of vital records received information on the birth and made up a birth registration record. If parents found errors in the information shown on the form, they were asked to correct them and return the form so the state’s record could be corrected accordingly. The notification was used until the late 1940s and then discontinued once states were keeping satisfactory birth records. The U.S. Census Bureau does not maintain these records.

    What to do? If the purpose of this Notification was to give parents a chance to correct any errors in the official birth registration information, it's entirely possible that the Official record could be materially different from the Notification. Thorough genealogical research would require that the Official Birth Registration be consulted and birth information extracted from that document rather than from the Notification.

    The Notification itself must be regarded as the Valuable Clue that it is; no less, no more.

    I've been trying to figure out what to do with this "thing" for a while. (Noodling About that State Notification of Birth Records.)

    In the absence of an authoritative model for citing this notice, I am going to agree with Linda McCauley that it's closest to a Family Artifact and cite it thus (using EE 3.25 as a model) [note: I am having trouble trying to create a hanging indent here, but they are understood in these examples] --

    Levenick Family Papers, 1976-. Privately held by Denise May Levenick, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Pasadena, California.

    1. Jane Austen Notification of Birth Registration, Los Angeles, California, citing birth registration no. 2345678 on 15 June 1942; Levenick Family Papers, 1976- , Privately held by Denise May Levenick, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Pasadena, California. This state-issued printed Notification was inherited by Austen's niece in 2011.

    12. Jane Austen notification of birth registration, 1942, Levenick Family Papers.

    PLEEEEASE help me out here if you have any thoughts on this. 

    Here's the boiler-plate text from the front of the document:

    Notification of Birth Registration Registrar's Number xxxxx

    Child's First Name, Middle Name, Last Name
    Place of Birth, Date of Birth, Sex

    First Name, Middle Name, Last Name

    First Name, Middle Name, Last Name

    The certificate of birth of the above child has been registered with your local
    Registrar of Vital Statistics. If the information is incorrect or incomplete,
    notify your local registrar immediately.

    [my parents name and address]

    [printed signature]
    Health Officer and Local Registrar of Vital Statistics
    Los Angeles City Health Department

    [printed signature]
    State Director of Public Health
    and State Registrar of Vital Statistics

    State of California, Department of Public Health



    Noodling About that State Notification of Birth Records

    A state notification of birth registration is good enough to qualify for federal Social Security benefits, but an Official Birth Certificate is required to apply for a marriage license in Manitowac, Wisconsin. I didn't know that!

    After Warren Bittner's session on Complex Evidence at SCGS12 last weekend, I started reviewing some of my source documents and discovered that an official state-issued "Notification of Birth Registration" is not a Birth Certificate, although it is an acceptable substitute in some situations, and in some states.

    Evidently, this fairly-common document has had a bit of head-scratching attention from other researchers. Linda McCauley at Documenting the Details and messages on the RootsWeb APG board show that this perplexing document has been pondered before. Linda encountered a version of this document issued by the Bureau of the Census.

    I have similar documents issued by the Census Bureau and by the State of California for my father, my mother, and myself. I have always used this notification in lieu of an official birth certificate. The reverse side of my own "Notification" states

    This Notification is Valuable

    It shows that the Certificate of Birth for your child has been legally filed. It may be used for identification school admission, working permits and for other purposes. A certified copy of the birth certificate may be obtained from your Local Registrar of Vital Statistics, County Recorder, or the State Registrar of Vital Statistics upon payment of a fee of $1.00.


    In the State of California, a notification of birth document will get you

    • a Social Security Card
    • enrolled in school
    • married

    However, it won't help you obtain

    Present-day concern about identification theft and Homeland Security has made these state-issued notifications less useful today for official identification than they were 50 or 60 years ago. Nowadays, these documents seem to be used mainly to acknowledge a birth registration and give parents an opportunity to correct any errors that may have occurred in the recording the information.

    Fraudulent "novelty birth records" have become so prevalent that the Social Security website includes several scanned images to illustrate some of the more creative versions.

    None of these would cut the mustard if you wanted to be married in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The instruction leaflet for how to obtain a marriage license distinctly states

    Required Documents Presented to Staff: "Hospital Birth Certificates (with the imprints of your feet) and State Notification of Birth Registration are not acceptable; they are not legal documents."

    Which leaves us with a "valuable" document that has no legal status. No wonder it's confusing, especially because, as Dee Dee King noted on the Root's Web APG mailing list, "Despite the Census Bureau disclaimer that this is not a duck, it sure appears to quack like one. ;-)"

    Next: This particular type of source doesn't seem to be modeled in Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained, so I am trying to determine the most correct citation format. Ideas? Linda McCauley suggests Family Artifact. What do you think?


    Find us on Google+