Hawaiian Delayed Birth Records Part One

Part One: What are Delayed Birth Records?
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.

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Reprinted from the YourIslandRoutes.com Archives

Copyright 2009 – Melody Lassalle All Rights Reserved

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Working with the California Divorce Index

Ancestry.com has the California Divorce index, 1966-1984.  I’m searching through it to fill in some holes in my descendants list and to answer a few questions about people who seemed to have too many kids and not enough spouses and vice versa ;)

I’m working with surname searches for now so as to find groups of people.  Most of the surnames so far are uncommon so I haven’t been overwhelmed by the results.

When you enter your search, you receive a summary of matches which includes:

Name  (husband or wife)

Spouse Name (husband or wife)

Location (county where event took place)

Date (date of event)

When you click on “View Images”, you’ll see the exact same sheet that you used to find on microfiche at your local library.  The sheets contain plenty more information than the summary.

Be aware that their are two types of files here.  Some sheets are Preliminary Records.  This means the information pertains to when the divorce was files.  Other sheets are Divorce Records.  Make note of the type of record (clearly stated at the top with Prelm or Divor.

Prelimary sheets contain more information that Divorce sheets.  The information is as follows:  (Note these sheets are arranged by Husband’s name)

Name of Husband

YR Birth (Year of Birth)

Name of Wife

YR Birth (Year of Birth)

YR Marr (Year of Marriage)

Preliminary MO YR (Month and Year of the preliminary filing)

Type (I am not sure yet what this means)

Co (County where filed)

Dissolution Case #

State File #

The Divorce Sheets give this information:  (Note:  These sheets are arranged by surname with husbands and wives mixed)

Last Name

First Name

Middle Initial

Last Name

First Name

Middle Initial

Type (again, unsure what this means)

Dissolution Co (county dissolution took place in

MO DA YR (date of dissolution in Month/Day/Year format)

Case #

State File #

It appears that early years are preliminary indexes, while later years are dissolution indexes.  I did not find both types of records for any individuals.

All in all I was able to give a couple of people first names.  I filled in a couple of birth and marriage years.  I also made one family member with multiple marriages and divorces even more confusing.

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Delayed Birth Records May Help Hawaiian Genealogists

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?

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