Delayed birth certificates can be a treasure chest of genealogy clues for the researcher.
After all, establishing the birth of an ancestor is high on any genealogist’s to-do list.
Finding a record to prove the birth date and place can be a stumbling block in the research process. In How to Determine Your Ancestor’s Birth Date (Even If No Birth Record is Found), we discussed how to determine a birth date when no birth record can be found. In this post, we are going to talk about when a birth record was created years after the actual event – in this case, an ancestor’s birth.
Have you encountered a “delayed birth certificate” for your ancestor?
We are going to take a close look at the North Carolina delayed birth certificate of Cecile Clara White. [That’s her in the photograph above.] As you research vital records, including delayed birth certificates, information will vary from state to state.
Birth certificates or forma birth records are relatively “modern” records. The start dates for vital records varies from state to state. Check with the state where you research to establish when birth records began being recorded. (No sense researching for a record that never existed.)
For instance, birth certificates were not required in North Carolina until 1913. Many rural areas were slow to become compliant with this new requirement, but by the end of WWI, all counties were consistently recording births and creating birth certificates.
Why was a delayed birth certificate even needed?
Social Security requirements required individuals to provide proof of birth. Passport applications also required proof of birth. If an individual was born prior to 1913 or in the surrounding years and had no birth certificate, they needed to apply for a delayed birth certificate.
How Do I Know To Look For a Delayed Birth Certificate?
Not sure if you should even check for a delayed birth certificate?
Consider first if your ancestor was born prior to the start of birth records in their state. Alternately, consider where your ancestors lived. Was it very rural or remote? Most births were home births. Making a trip to the courthouse was not high on a parent’s list of things to do when other children needed caring for and/or crops needed to be brought in.
Next, consider if your ancestor had a passport record or appears in the Social Security Death Index? If so, they likely had a delayed birth certificate issued.
Why a Delayed Birth Certificate Is A Genealogist’s Treasure Chest!
A delayed birth certificate may be more valuable to your genealogy research than a birth certificate filed at the time of birth.
Because the applicant had to supply proof with supporting evidence of their birth date and place. In other words, your ancestor has done the work for you!
Delayed birth certificates provide additional information that an original certificate does not.
Let’s take a look at 5 important pieces of genealogical information found on this North Carolina delayed birth certificate for Cecile Clara White.
First notice, Cecile White was born in 1917 – 4 years after the 1913 date when NC birth records started. Again, consistency in this state did not occur until after WWI.
1. Basic Vital Record Information: Cecile Clara White was born February 18, 1917 to James Abe White and Stella Foy [Fay] Holyfield in Dobson, Surry, NC. Both parents were born in Surry County, NC. Just as on a normal birth certificate, information about the parents is provided. With the parents birth place of Surry County, NC, research into the next generation back would continue in Surry County.
2. Married Name: Cecile White Howard applied for this delayed birth certificate on 9 August 1971, more than 54 years after her birth. Her signature was required and provides her married name Howard and her original signature. Having your ancestor’s original signature (or mark) can be important when you need to distinguish between two people of the same name. [Note: Obviously, if a delayed birth certificate is being filed for a child, no marriage information will be found.]
3. Information on applicant’s parents: An affidavit from Cecile’s mother Stella White provided evidence for Cecile’s birth date. Stella White was 76 years old and still living in Dobson, Surry, NC in August 1971. Simple math calculates her birth date as ~1895. Further, we can at least state Stella Holyfield White of Dobson, NC was born ~1895 and died after 9 August 1971. This information will be helpful when beginning researching Stella and her generation of the family.
James “Abe” White was Cecile’s father. As noted above, he was born in Surry County, NC. No other information about Abe White is provided. While no evidence is provided, in all likelihood, Abe was not still living in 1971. For the researcher, a death certificate would be a good next step for researching Abe White and his White family line.
4. A Family Bible exists: The Bible of Stella White is presented as evidence of Cecile’s birth year of 1917. Obviously this means a family Bible exists and gives the researcher a new record to search. Find out who has that Bible!
5. Information on the applicant’s child: Cecile’s daughter is named and her place of birth listed. This provides the researcher a location for where Cecile lived in December 1948. Cecile was living in Guilford County, NC. (In the above example, Cecile’s child’s name is hidden for privacy reasons.)
6. BONUS: Evidence of a death record: Under “additional information” a notation is found that Cecile W Howard is deceased and her death certificate record number is provided. If not looked at already, the death certificate can easily be obtained for research.
Whew! That’s a lot of information!
- The birth date, birth location, parents’ names and parents’ places of birth.
- Applicant’s married name.
- Information and/or clues to the parents’ birth places, ages, or death.
- The existence of a Family Bible.
- Information on the applicant’s child.
- Evidence of a death record and the death record number.
That’s information on three generations, Cecile’s married name, and her original signature all found on Cecile White Howard’s delayed birth certificate!
Let the genealogy dance begin!
Other posts of interest:
- Genealogy For Beginners – Start Finding Your Ancestors!
- How to Analyze Your Ancestor’s Birth Certificate
- How to Find An Ancestor’s Birth Date (Even If No Birth Record Is Found)
Pin For Future Reference!