Modern Birth Certifcates

I recently ordered birth certificates for my parents and grandparents from the state vital records.  The certificates I received are all identical format, exactly the same as my own, obtained several years ago. They are all modern "multi-colored" pages with the birth information printed on them.  The issue date on the four I just received are identical and all are noted as "certified."

EE v.3, 9.41, p.467 and the QCM, p. 432 are straight forward, but given the way birth (and/or) death certificates are now generated, the extended time period from the event date to the issue date, I am wondering about the relationship between the certificate number, date of the event  and date of issue and if I should "adjust" the reference note to reflect the changes technology had brought to the certificates, specifically:  

  • given that one can order "non certified" or "certified" copies from most states, I am thinking it is important to incorporate that the fact I am citing a "certified" copy into the reference note;
  • with most certificates now "printed on demand," there is no repository to view the same record I have.  In theory, there could be several certificates for the same person issued, with the only distinction being the issue/print date. 

To provide readers with the information needed to view the specific certificate I am citing I decided to incorporate elements from privately held artifacts, but not sure where to include the information indicating a certified copy.


Full Reference Note

Idaho, Department of Health and Welfare, certificate of live birth no. 111-1929-178467 (2022), Lillie May Jones (b. 7 December 1929); Bureau of Vital Records & Health Statistics, Boise; certified copy (19 November 2022) currently in possession of Bill Smith [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] City, Town.


Idaho, Department of Health and Welfare, certificate of live birth no. 111-1929-178467, certified copy, (2022), Lillie May Jones (b. 7 December 1929); Bureau of Vital Records & Health Statistics, Boise; privately held by Bill Smith [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] City, Town.

Thank you,


Submitted byEEon Fri, 02/10/2023 - 08:47

Curtis, after you cite the essentials, you can add anything else to a citation that you think will help you or others. The essentials have not changed across the 15 years since the first edition of Evidence Explained.

Most "modern" certificates supplied to enquirers are the "short-form" certificates that EE discusses at 9.40. The fact that machine-generated certificates for one ancestor may be issued to many different descendants does not alter the citation. Yes, each may carry a different issue number. That is why we search the details on the certificate to identify an original registration number.

Would you like to share with us a copy of what is perplexing you--with names and other identifying details blurred, of course? 

Submitted bycwhermann28on Sat, 02/11/2023 - 12:52

I apologize it has taken so long for me to reply - I was having trouble posting the reply, it kept providing an error that I needed to enable Java Script for my browser, (beyond my pay grade).  Anyway, finally got it corrected.

Attached is a copy of a modern b/c I received from the State of Idaho.

I decided to start over, take a step back and do what EE Chapters 1 and 2 guide us to do: look closely at the certificate, analyze the information provided.  I then re-looked at the QCM on p. 430 along with EE 9.35, 9.40 and 9.41 for additional guidance.

A review of the state website shows Idaho does not provide "heirloom" or "genealogical purposes" copies.  To obtain a b/c, one must have a "direct and tangible interest" in the certificate.

The small print above the issue date it states "This is a true and correct reproduction of the document officially registered and place on file with the IDAHO BUREAU OF VITAL RECORDS AND HEALTH STATISTICS."  
But looking further, although the document is noted as a "Certificate of Live Birth", there is not a specific certificate number and the title at the very top states "Certification of Vital Record."   It further notes a State File No. 111-XXXX, along with the date of filing, 6 January 1930.

Maybe I am overthinking this, but I am now considering that I am not looking at a birth certificate, I am looking at a certified certificate, citing the information/records in "State File No. 111-XXXX."   To satisfy my curiosity, I plan to contact the state next week to confirm if a paper file exists. Based on this line of thinking, I would write the citation for this document as:

Idaho, Department of Health and Welfare, certified certificate of live birth (2015), First Middle Last; Bureau of Vital Records & Health Statistics, Boise; citing State File No. 111-XXXX  (1930); privately held by Bill Smith [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] City, Town.

If an unknown number of "identical" certificates could have been issued in 2015, I am wondering if the specific issue date should be noted rather than just the year.

Upload a document

Submitted byEEon Sat, 02/11/2023 - 18:12

Curtis, you've thought this through well and reached a sound conclusion. As a couple of suggestions:

  • EE would explain the year 2015--e.g., "issued 2015."
  • EE would capitalize the words Certificate of Live Birth, because that is the exact title of the document.

Submitted bycwhermann28on Sat, 02/11/2023 - 20:43

Lesson Learned - complete an analysis of the document to make sure what you have before rushing to cite it.

Submitted bycwhermann28on Tue, 03/07/2023 - 22:53

Quick follow-up to close the loop on the record/document I was actually citing, the importance of understanding what the document is and the importance to seek the original records. 

I contacted the State of Idaho and they confirmed the certified certificate in my possession was a computer generated document containing the information from the "original documents" filed with the state at the time of the birth, typically by the hospital or parents.  They also confirmed these documents would most likely have time of birth, doctors or witness signatures, etc. 

I was able to request a "photocopy" of the documents in file noted on the certificate.