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Delayed Vital Records Certificates Issued in New York State

Cliff Lamere    18 Jul 2003



Births, marriages and deaths were supposed to be reported to the local government in New York State beginning in 1880-81.   The local office was then required to forward the original certificates to the state.  Exceptions were made for the cities of Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers which all had begun collecting vital records earlier.  They were not required to send marriage certificates to the state until 1908.  They began sending birth and marriage certificates in 1914.  Earlier years of the certificates were never sent to the state.


Despite the requirement to do so, these vital record events were not always reported.  For example, in a 1909 Syracuse newspaper an article complained that some doctors were not reporting deaths.  Around the state, births were not always reported.  Doctors did not attend all births.  A high percentage of children were delivered by midwives prior to 1920.  I suspect that in a large number of cases neither the midwife nor the child's family reported the birth.


Unreported births later became a problem for an adult when circumstances required that a birth certificate be shown to a hiring company or a government agency such as Social Security (passed in 1935).  Because of World War II, in 1942 a large number of NY men needed to prove their age and citizenship.  A birth certificate was required, and the person's birth had to be proved (we didn't want spies in the military or working in sensitive jobs).  Many 'delayed' certificates were issued in 1942, perhaps more that year than any other.


Below is some information concerning delayed certificates provided by members of three county mailing lists in New York State.  At the end of those comments is a copy of an email in which I explained that in some searches by the Health Dept. they do also check for a delayed certificate.  My personal comments are in square brackets [  ].


Related to the topic of delayed certificates is the discussion below of the World War II Fourth Draft Registration (1942).   These cards are being transcribed in some areas of the country, and LDS is microfilming many of them.  Ancestry has over 6 million cards on their website.



You're probably right about the delayed birth cirtificate in 1942 and WW-II relationship.  One reason may have been the draft.  The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was limited and provided that not more than 900,000 men were to be in training at any one time, and it limited service to 12 months.  Later (1941) it was extended to 18 months.  After the United States entered World War II, a new selective service act made men between 18 and 45 liable for military service and *required* all men between 18 and 65 to register.  The terminal point of service was extended to six months after the war.  I think they actually started some limited registering for the draft as early as 1939, possibly 1940 -- well before Pearl Harbor -- but the big push to get everyone registered came early in 1942. 

Another thing to keep in mind, however, is that there was a lot of questioning of one's citizenship at the time.  Those who weren't in the military were often working in some defense related industry and
required a security clearance -- thus proof of citizenship and/or place of birth.  Then again, there was rationing -- I can still picture ... the little ration stamp books.  There were different colored stamps for meats, dairy products, sugar, etc.  I'm fairly certain that you had to prove citizenship to get the ration
stamps.  This brings back memories... Those were serious times...


The Selective Service Act was passed in Sept. 1940, signed by the President, and by Presidential Proclamation put into effect in October of that year.  Many men had to prove their age and status.  Previous errors and omissions had to be corrected.  Many who were already in the Service were
soon promoted and in lots of cases had to get security clearances.  My father was one.  When he wrote to the Illinois vital statistics office he was told the records of the 1890s had burned.  The Navy said, "Get it fixed!"   He had to get affidavits from several people in order to prove to the State of Illinois that he was actually born on that date, in that place, and given that name.  In 1940 he had been in the Naval Reserve for 23 years.  


Hundreds of thousands of people had their records corrected.  The Navy even established a new Bureau of Record Corrections.  It still exists.
   [Name deleted], Lieutenant Colonel, United States Marine Corps  (retired)


Cliff and all -- Here may be your answer.  I got this information courtesy of the Orange County Genealogical Society conference who had [two speakers].  One of them told  of what was called
in 1942 "The Fourth Draft."  It was taken by the military to register all men ages 45-62 [45-65] evidently to have a database of sorts of skills that the military might need in the war effort.  I have been trying to track this down for New York State so I can find my grandfather's record.  After a couple of false starts, I contacted Selective Service and am still waiting for a response.

[See next]


I noted one comment [the one immediately above] about the Fourth Draft Registration in 1942 for all men ages 45-62 [45-65].  Here in downstate NY we're calling it the "old man's draft."  There is a group volunteers currently working on indexing men that fell into this Fourth Draft for New York City only.  The National Archives in Manhattan has the registration cards.  Several weeks ago I asked one of the archivists at "NARA" if an indexing would be performed for counties outside of New York City.  It looks like we'll have to wait for many more years to see the cards for non-NY City counties. He said that the "old men's" draft cards for such counties had been mixed in with the cards of men that were then actually serving on active duty, meaning that many of the men would still be alive today and our current privacy laws would prevent such a project for the foreseeable future.  


[To see an image of a World War II 4th Draft Registration card from another state, click here (includes good information).  To see one of these cards for a Russian immigrant, click here.  This draft in April 1942 required men born between 28 Apr 1877 and 16 Feb 1897 to register.  In April 1942, those men would have been 45-65 years of age.


For more information about these draft cards and LDS microfilming them around the country, click here.  The December 16, 2001 article begins on the second screen down in this online genealogical newsletter.  Later articles follow this article.] 



Just yesterday I was looking through a Feb 1942 newspaper from Patchogue, Long Island, NY... and noticed an item that the Brookhaven Town Clerk's office was having problems keeping up with the filing of delayed birth certificates.  I'm supposing that this may have been required for a draft registration, but it'd be interesting to learn more.


"I have a delayed birth certificate for my Grandfather.  He was born in ... Columbia Co, NY on May 12, 1899.  The certificate was signed by his father and notarized on December 22, 1942.  It was accepted and filed by the NYS Health Dept on March 16, 1943.  I don't know why there was a delay. 



My grandfather is passed away now, but during WWII my grandfather had to cleared to drive in and out of the General Electric & CO in Schenectady and I don't know whether he got a delayed certificate or something else.  His own mother was not believed at the Vital records office, nor his wife nor the marriage record.  The midwife was deceased.  He was not at that time, as far as we know,  baptised either.  He did receive a clearance.  I wonder if they checked the census for his birth?


In 1942 my mother went to work for the 2nd Service command in Albany and this being federal probably needed proof of birth for a back ground check.  She was employed at the time (Bell Telephone)



My mother graduated from college in 1942 and needed a delayed certificate so that she could teach.



Recently I found, among my Grandfather's papers, certificates from the state which affirmed the birth of my Grandfather in 1877, his wife in 1878 and three children born in the early 1900s.  The certificates were issued in the late 1940s.



To add to the reasons for late registration of births:  My birth of my uncle, born in 1905, was registered in the 1940s.  I assume it was needed because he was a railroad detective and may have needed security clearance paperwork filed during WWII.  This would probably also be the case for people who needed security clearance to do war work in factories, for example.


In the early 1940's, Social Security had recently been implemented.  Those person's entering into the work force in the early 1940's, would have needed a Social Security card... those already in the work force would also have to have gotten a Social Security Card at some point in time as well...
Probably a little earlier...

In those "olden days"... You had to show proof of date of birth, in order to get a Social Security Card.

This would explain quite a few of the delayed birth certificates.... they were needed for Social Security applications.

Which is what makes contacting the Social Security Administration for copies of our ancestors application form  important.... the date of birth is listed there... as well as mother's maiden name, etc.... it is what is known as a primary source of information in genealogical terms...

Nowaday's, babies get a Social Security card almost immediately upon birth...


My mother was born in 1883 and when she started drawing Soc. Security in about 1942 she didn't have a birth cert. so she had to fill out a form with the information that she knew and have it notarized - I wasn't aware that that would have been filed with the State and available as a birth certificate.


Another reason in later years for delayed Birth Certificates is due to a parent/parents not giving the Given Name of the newborn child immediately to the Dr attending birth or to the hospital staff person requesting the information at the time of birth.  Therefore a record of a birth stating "boy" or "girl" child would be made out and sent to the State, but not an actual certified certificate that was considered an "official" birth record for that person.  So if you ever tried to obtain a birth certificate it would state "No Record Available".  


In order for a documented Birth Certificate to be issued at a later date (20 yrs after the birth - I believe it was) the parent and attending physician and whoever was present at the time of the birth as a witness must then submit notarized papers stating that the person was, and still is, that child who was born on that given DOB and this was the Given Name that child received, and etc.  


The above is true in NYS where I personally went through this process in order to obtain my delayed Birth Certificate many years after my birth.  The family just could not agree on which given name I was to receive. Thank Heavens my mother (my father was deceased) and the nurse attending my birth (was still alive in a nursing home) were available.  I also have 2 friends that had to go through this same process in NYS due to similar occurrences.


The "usual fee" for a search of the NY State Births Index is denominated in years.  1-3 years for the lowest amount of money, 4-10 years for a higher amount, 11-20 years for even more money.  How does this work with the Delayed Certificates of Birth - would the "years" involved be the range for the year of birth or the range for the year of application for a Delayed Certificate of Birth?

[My response to this was sent to three mailing lists (counties of Albany, Columbia and Rensselaer]


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