Friday, September 30, 2022

Don't Be in a Hurry! Check the Actual Vital Record

Over time, I've been researching vital records for my husband's Work, Short, McClure, McKibbin, and related ancestors who spent time in Indiana. 

Although the Hoosier State began requiring registration of births in 1882, not every county or municipality complied. Luckily, nearly all of the births after 1920 were registered with the state health department. This informative page on the Family Search wiki explains the details.

Recently, I heard from a descendant of my husband's McKibbin line, who was kind enough to mention new clues that jumpstarted my research.

When I got to hubby's 4c1r, it would have been easy to quickly read the transcribed info and add to my tree without looking at the digitized image of the record.

BUT if I'd hurried on, I would have missed the extra details that Indiana so thoughtfully requested on its birth certs at that time, and which I didn't know about till I looked at the record itself.

Multiple birth?

Note the questions in the hot pink oval: 

  • Is this birth a twin or triplet or other?
  • Number of order of birth of this child
  • Is this child legitimate?
Although this child was not part of a multiple birth, I would have liked answers to such questions on other vital records for twins elsewhere in the family tree.

Researching decades after a twin or triplet has died, it's often difficult or impossible to learn who was born first and who was born next. Because I'm an older twin, and but my mother was a younger twin, I have a special interest in birth order among multiple births!

Learning about legitimacy is also of interest to my research, a nudge to look for marriage documents (or not). 

How many children in all?

I'm familiar with New York City/state birth certs because that's where many in my family tree were from. As shown above, there's a question on the NY cert asking how many previous children were born to this mother and how many are now living, in all. This child was the second for this mother, and both were living in 1908, the year of this cert.

Similarly, in Indiana, as shown at top, the blue oval highlights those questions:

  • Number of children born to this mother, including present birth?
  • Number of children still living, including present birth?
For the McKibbin ancestor born in Indiana in 1921, this cert revealed he was one of 8 but only 7 living at that point.

Now I had a narrower window for researching the other siblings, including the one who sadly was born and died before 1921. This is especially important for children who were lived their entire lives between Census years.

By taking a few moments to look at the actual vital record, and read the fine print, I saved a lot of research time in the end. Slow and steady wins!

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great clue. It's now become routine for every OB/GYN to ask these questions, including age at first pregnancy, marital status, etc. Not to be nosy, but to get a picture of the woman's life in order to best serve her needs. I'm glad to see how long they have been asking these questions!