Do you know where your birth certificate is stashed away? Did you misplace it and need to get a replacement? Or has it gotten so worn you can no longer make out the information on it? When you are ordering an online birth certificate replacement, do you wonder about the history of birth certificates and how they came about?
You might be surprised to learn that the history of birth certificates in the United States is not as old as you might think. The birth certificates we have come to know today did not start to take shape until the early 1900s.
In the 1630s, the colony assemblies attempted to pass laws requiring churches to keep records of christenings, but not births. However, the practice did not take hold, and not all churches participated.
Part of the problem the churches faced was keeping track of everyone. Mothers would give birth at home, not in hospitals. In some cases, the new infant did not always survive that long. Even if they managed to make it to childhood, many children passed away from illnesses and diseases. In addition, families were constantly moving around from one community to the next.
It wasn’t until the 1800s when things started to change. The Bureau of Census was created in 1840 with the passing of the U.S. Census Act. This was in response to the growing number of foreign immigrants arriving in the county. The U.S. wanted a way to count the newly arriving people.
Yet, there were still no birth certificates being used by federal and state government agencies. Hospital births were still very rare, as women usually gave birth at home. In 1900, the Bureau of Census adopted a standardized form to record very basic information about a child’s birth and family.
Then, in 1902, Congress officially established the U.S. Census Bureau as a permanent government agency. The Census Bureau was given the authority to set up different offices in various areas of the country where people could register births.
While this was a move in the right direction, things did not change much until World War II. During this time, many manufacturing facilities were hiring people to build goods to support the war effort. However, they had to prove they were a U.S. citizen.
It was then it was discovered around one-third of the U.S. population had no record or ability to prove when or where they were born. In addition, over 200,000 births were still occurring annually without any birth certificate being issued.
To address these issues, Congress established the National Office of Vital Statistics in 1946, which later became the National Center of Health Statistic (NCHS) in 1963. As a result of the efforts by the NCHS, issuing birth certificates became common practice, as well as a legal document to prove citizenship.
As you can see, the history of birth certificates in the U.S. is not that old. If you need a copy of your birth certificate for employment, to get a driver license, or for a U.S. passport, you can order a birth certificate online from FastBirthCertificates.com or call us at (415) 528-2585 today!