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What Are Birth Records?

Birth records provide documentation on the birth of an individual. These records have become an important tool in learning about a family’s past. However, they were not always obtained and maintained by government offices. Today, an individual’s birth is documented through an official birth certificate. This is filed by the local county in which the birth occurred and then a record of the birth is on file with the state as well. This information can be very important for many needs including genealogy reports.


Birth records were not always kept. Each state sets the laws for gathering and collecting this information. Most states did not begin requiring local agencies and county clerks to keep this information until the 1900’s. At that point, the information was gathered and maintained in county clerk’s offices. Within the next 10 to 30 years, most states had an official government agencies at the state level that gathered and stored vital records. This is often done through the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, or a similar agency.


Some states were successful in gathering birth records earlier than this, though. Some even have records dating from the 1700’s. Birth records from early periods may or may not be available through government databases, though. Most commonly, this information was only submitted to the archives the state has and not added to current databases. However, each state is very different. Locating information on birth records can be a challenge in some situations.


Birth records vary by location. In some cases, these records contain nothing more than a notation of the individual’s birth and an assigned Social Security number were applicable. Many modern day birth records contain much more information including information on the parent’s names, addresses and ages. Information about the child’s birth may also be include such as the location, date and time. A doctor’s signature is often found on birth certificates, but not necessarily on any simple record of the child’s birth.


Birth records were often kept by other organizations as well. This is especially true in the early founding of the country. At that time, only churches or other religious organizations kept these records. In some cases, especially in the western countries, township clerks or local town recorders kept records. These records may still be available for those who are looking for them to create genealogy records.


Birth records in most states are open to the public. Some states limit when these records become public knowledge based on the state’s laws and the amount of privacy given. Most records of more than 50 to 100 years old do become public. Individuals who need a copy of a birth certificate for any legal purpose may need to visit the local county clerk’s office or local health department to gather this information as it needs certification. For those who just need a record of the birth of an individual one of the best resources for that information is through the local department of health or through statewide databases. Some may even be searchable online.

One Response to What Are Birth Records?

  1. It is in reality a great and useful piece of info. I am satisfied that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

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