You may have heard the rumors about Hawaiian vital records. Records before 1900 are few and far between. You may have better luck finding a diary that your ancestor scribbled in than finding his or her birth certificate. There is a possibility your ancestor applied for a delayed birth certificate especially if they were born before 1910.
What Are Delayed Birth Records?
What are delayed birth records and why did a person apply for one? Delayed birth records were a way for an individual born in Hawaii to prove their place of birth. A person may need this proof for a variety of reasons: to apply for a job, receive government benefits, apply for a passport, and so forth.
You’ll notice quite a few people applied in the 1940s and 1950s. This was probably due to the creation of Social Security. Without proof that they were born in Hawaii, they wouldn’t be able to receive Social Security benefits.
Proving Hawaiian Birth
No matter the reason for needing documentaiton, people born in Hawaii before 1910 would have difficulty proving they were born in Hawaii without documentation. Those who weren’t of Hawaiian descent most likely had immigrant parents, so they’d have to prove they were born in Hawaii and not in their parent’s homeland.
Many records disappeared through natural disaster and negligence. Many folks in the early years never bothered to register births. If they went through the registration process, chances are they did not hold on to the official certificate. While birth registration was required before 1900, enforcement was not strict until after 1905 or so.
The Original Record May Be There But You Can’t Find It
You might be lucky. There are records for the birth year you need. So, why can’t you find the one for your ancestors?
There are also problems with the records themselves. If you search through the birth register books for Hawaii, you’ll notice some oddities.
For instance, in the years before 1890, they may have only record the given names of the child and parents recorded.
The names may be written in their Latin forms or a corruption of it. Hyacintho and Luxandrinha may not stand out as Jacintho and Alexandrinha.
The name is mangled. It’s a reality. The people who recorded official records may not have understood the person giving information. They may not known how to spell the names they were given. Joao becomes Juau or worse Juaw. Jose becomes Hose, Guilherme becomes Wilhelm. Medeiros becomes Maderas.
Add illiteracy to the mix and the name can be unidentifiable. This may make it impossible to locate a true match.
Delayed Birth Records Give Your Ancestor Proof of Birth
For whatever reason, your ancestor came to a point in their life where they needed a birth record, but none existed. They went through the lengthy delayed birth record process to do so.
I’ll discuss in part two how one obtained a delayed birth record and how those files are helpful to genealogists.
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