One of the most frustrating things about researching in Hawaii is the difficulty in obtaining vital records prior to 1910. Their are registry logs, but the information can be cryptic, incomplete, or undecipherable. I’ve gone through them and found entries where parents are listed only as “Jose and Maria”. Great, which Jose and Marie? Almost every Portuguese family I know of had at least one set of Jose and Maria’s. The name of a child born may only be given as “baby”. (They also had a few of these too!)
There are no certificates prior to 1905-1910 (depending on the locality). If you order a birth certificate, you’ll get a typed copy of the exact information in the registry logs.
Many people researching in Hawaii do not know about the delayed birth records. They may be overlooking a valuable resource.
Though the delayed birth records were in use for many years, they became important during the 1930s. As Hawaii was a territory of the United States, citizens could apply for the new program called Social Security. But, how do you prove you were born in Hawaii if you have no proof of it beyond the fact that you say so?
Enter delayed birth records. The applicant applied for the certificate. Then, they went to a hearing whereby they supplied documentation and witness testimony to prove they really were born in Hawaii. The file will include the application, testimony, and any documents submitted. Complete files also include a photograph of the applicant. It will also include the outcome of the hearing. These records have been microfilmed by the LDS Family History Center.
I have found a tremendous amount of information in these files. Since the person had to prove their place of birth, the witness testimony can include neighbors, relatives, and anyone who had longtime contact with the family. I’ve found witnesses who knew the family since they migrated, took care of the children when a parent died, or friends who stayed close decades later.
If you’d like to learn more about these records to see if they might help you get over your vital records roadblock, I’ve written a two part series on what delayed birth records are and how to obtain them:
Part One: What are Delayed Birth Records?
Part Two: How Did a Person Apply?