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 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.
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.
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, you may only find the first name of the child and parents recorded. You may also find the names written in their Latin form. This may make it impossible to locate a true match.
Reprinted from the YourIslandRoutes.com Archives
Copyright 2009 – Melody Lassalle All Rights Reserved
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com