History of the Birth Certificate

Throughout human history, there has always been a desire to create population censuses for better control and organization. However, until the advent of the printing press, it was very difficult to establish effective registration criteria. With the arrival of industrialization, and the major growth of the world population, the organizations of the different countries began to look for solutions to be able to census their citizens correctly.

A centenary efficient system

The birth documentation and other important statistics (e.g. births, deaths, marriages, divorces) has had a long tradition among the population for centuries, typically through individual families or their churches. The idea that a government should also record this important information is a relatively modern development. The United Kingdom was the first country to order the nationwide collection of birth data in 1853. The United States began nationwide collection of birth data in 1902 through the United States Census. Several individual states had already collected data on births, including Virginia, which collected data as a colony in 1632, and Massachusetts in 1639, so the idea was to get each state to follow its own. Example. The federal government first developed a standard form for applying for a birth certificate in 1907, five years after the Census Bureau began collecting data. The current system of states collecting and submitting data to the federal government was developed between 1915, when the federal government ordered states to collect and submit data, and 1933, when all states participated. In 1946, responsibility for the nationwide collection and publication of vital statistics shifted from the Census Bureau to the National Office of Vital Statistics, which is now the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). . Today, the NCHS is part of the Centers for Disease Control, which are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Proof of citizenry

During WWII and later, employers increasingly asked potential employees to prove their status as citizens. Federal labor laws for certain industries, such as aircraft manufacturing, already required employers to hire citizens, and many Americans had no proof of their citizenship status. Many Americans trying to find jobs in the war economy expressed frustration with this seemingly bureaucratic hurdle. A man from Rhode Island wrote, "This is America and it's not right to deny me a job because I don't have birth certificates." I have a wife and a son and I want a job. "Grace Wilson, 42, from Kansas, hoped to get a job in the aerospace industry, but couldn't even apply for an apprenticeship school." It's a bitter and painful feeling to know that you're an American citizen that your grandparents and parents were, and they still can't establish citizenship. "Birth certificates were acceptable documents of American citizenship, but many people did not keep copies. Between 1940 and 1945, about 43 million Americans, nearly one-third of the active population, filed only one. in their states to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate.

In 1942 an important magazine published an article how important is to obtain copies of birth certificates. The states had trouble keeping up with the demand. In late 1942, the War Labor Commission responded to the national "birth certificate crisis" by announcing that war workers would no longer have to produce birth certificates or other documents to prove their status. of citizenship. Workers could simply swear their citizenship "in the presence of a representative of the army or naval plant". The penalties for falsely claiming American citizenship included fines of $10,000 and imprisonment for up to five years. In the years after World War II, employers, schools, and the federal government increasingly relied on birth certificates to document certain activities and achievements. Soldiers had to present a marriage certificate and the child's birth certificate to ensure medical care for the relatives. Public schools required birth certificates to enroll students. One of the provisions of the Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938 was that workers had to prove their age to enter the labour market. This was a legislative victory that recalled the reform efforts of the Progressive Era to eliminate labour. Child in the United States. In the 1950s, Americans, mainly mothers, realized the importance of registering births of children in their state and obtaining a birth certificate. It became a way to secure the birthright of their children as citizens.