A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the circumstances of the birth or to a certified copy of or representation of the ensuing registration of that birth. Depending on the jurisdiction, a record of birth might or might not contain verification of the event by such as a midwife or doctor.
History and contemporary times:
Most countries have statutes and laws that regulate the registration of births. In all countries, it is the responsibility of the mother's physician, midwife, hospital administrator, or the parents of the child to see that the birth is properly registered with the appropriate government agency.
The right of every child to a name and nationality, and the responsibility of national governments to achieve this are contained in Articles 7 and 8 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: "The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality..." (CRC Article 7) and "States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations..." (CRC Article 8).
"...it's a small paper but it actually establishes who you are and gives access to the rights and the privileges, and the obligations, of citizenship" - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, February 2005.
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Delayed Birth Certificate Records:
In the United States, many births occured at home with a family member attending the birth. These births were not always recorded at a government level [township or county]. When documentation of citizenship or a right was needed, the person could petition the courts to have a delayed birth record created. Witnesses knowledgable of the birth would provide statements substantiating the claim of the petitioner as to their identity. Statements from local church records showing the blessing, naming, or christening of the child in their family faith may also be used to support the petitioner's claim as to who they are and their parentage. Neighbors could also be witnesses to the petitioner's cause.
CASE STUDY: Iola Ruth Reep was born 13 May 1898 in Chicora, Butler, Pennsylvania to farmer, Elias W. Reep and his wife, Anna nee Moore. She was born at the family farm. She grew up in this small rural town, attending school, attending church, marrying, and raising a family of five children, living always in either Butler County or the neighboring Armstrong County. When she is widowed in 1954 she visits her eldest son, David Conrad Irwin Jr., who was the first of the family in nine generations to live outside the Pennsylvania boundaries.
Iola Ruth Irwin nee Reep decides in 1955, at the age of 56 years, to be employed for the first time outside of her home. She petitioned the courts in Butler County, Pennsylvania to record her birth at the governmental level so that she could be employed at the Veterans Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Petitioners in support of her delayed birth record claim were her older siblings. Iola was the 13th and youngest child of the Reep-Moore union. She obtained a delayed birth certificate and her pies in the Veterans Hospital kitchen of Ann Arbor, Michigan were legendary. Her retirement from the hospital made many pie eaters very sad. For further information,click here