The following pages are copies of the paper read before the Vital Statistics Section of the American Public Health Association, on October 30, 1930, written by Sheldon L. Howard, Illinois State Registrar of Vital Statistics, and Henry B. Hemenway, Medical Assistant Registrar, Vital Statistics Division, Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield, Illinois.
The article below was downloaded, printed, scanned, and uploaded on this website for educational purposes. It was originally published in The American Journal Public Health Nations Health, 1931 June; 21(6): 641–647.
A PDF is available at this link from The National Center for Biotechnology Information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1556353/pdf/amjphnation00610-0039.pdf
This is the basis for which all American state laws on the sealing and amending —- falsifying — of all adoptees’ birth certificates have been made into law.
Author E. Wayne Carp, in his 1998 book, Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption, on page 53, states:
“In 1929, Carl Heisterman, a Children’s Bureau legal researcher, was one of the first persons to hit upon the idea that within a decade would revolutionize the issue of birth certificates and adopted children.
Heisterman suggested that an adopted child should be issued a second birth certificate reflecting his or her new name. … It was left, however, to two enterprising registrars of vital statistics, not federal officials, social workers, or adoptive parents, to put forth a concrete plan of issuing new birth certificates to adopted children. …Howard and Hemenway … characterized their professional brethren as ‘missionaries who should bring about the rectification of the existing evils’ in the birth registration of children born out of wedlock…”
On page 53, Carp writes:
“By 1948, however, nearly every state embraced the registrar’s original recommendation of issuing a new birth certificate upon receiving a court-ordered decree of adoption.”
My home state of New York enacted a law in 1936 that followed the suggested plan.
I was born legitimately within a marriage. My mother died and left me, and my four older siblings, half orphans. I was the only one to be relinquished to adoption by our father. I didn’t need to be “legitimized” by adoption.
Full orphans, children adopted by step parents, and children relinquished to adoption by married parents are all lumped together with the “unfortunate” illegitimates to suffer the fate of sealed and falsified birth certificates by state laws written in the past.
It is interesting to note that, while legitimizing the illegitimate by issuing amended birth certificates upon adoption not only legitimizes legitimately-born adopted people, but also issues new amended birth certificates to children adopted by single adoptive parents. This defeats the purpose of the concept of legitimation, now, doesn’t it?
Here is a quote from the 1930 paper: Bottom of page 646:
“…when the name of the child is changed, the clerk of the court shall send an attested copy of the decree to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. Then on receipt of such copy the State Registrar shall cause to be made a new record of the birth in the new name, and with the name or names of the adopting parent or parents.”
Read on for your enlightenment:
7 thoughts on “1930: Birth Records of Illegitimates and of Adopted Children”
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To whom it may concern:
My name is Barry Hertz and I am trying to find any information relating to “Angelus Hospital” at 2952 Bronson Avenue where (according to her birth certificate) my mother was born on March 21, 1930. Although her mother and father (definitely Russian Jews from the Ukraine) are indicated as her parents on her birth certificate this is a lie because according to Ancestry.com my mom is almost 100% English/Irish. Furthermore, my moms birth certificate lacks my grandmother’s signature and her maiden name is misspelled. There is also an individual who signed it certifying that he witnessed a live birth at 8:12am. I am “digging” into this situation and wanting to find out what happened (are there “archives” relating to Angelus Hospital) and who my mother’s biological relatives are? Can you help?
I wish I could help you, Barry. I am a researcher on birth certificate laws and adoptees’ issues – I am not a genealogist. You don’t say what State your mother was born in. I suggest that you call the director of vital statistics in your State and ask for help. Do you know if your mother was adopted? If so, you can petition the court that handled her adoption to unseal the court records which will give you the Final Order of Adoption. Compare names. You can also petition the Supreme Court in your State to unseal your mother’s birth certificate, is she was adopted, and if the record you describe is the amended birth certificate issued after adoption. Good luck.
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