Citing hospital birth certificate (Section 4.24, 4th ed.)

I am having trouble coming up with a citation for a birth certificate issued by the hospital at the time of birth. Trying to follow the format described in Section 4.24 (4th edition) for a family artifact. For example, if I have my niece's birth certificate issued by Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida at the time of her birth. Let's say the certificate has been in my continuous possession since the birth so provenance is not an issue.

The format per 4.24 is "(description of artifact), Koehler Family Collection; privately held by Robert Koehler, [address private], Tampa, Florida, 2024." (Koehler Family Collection being the name I have assigned to all family papers in my possession). My question is how do I describe the artifact? My initial thought was "Heirloom birth record of Mary Jane Doe", but then I thought - should the name of the hospital be mentioned in the citation? Should the date? Any guidance would be appreciated!

Submitted byEEon Tue, 04/23/2024 - 08:01

Hello, rtkoehler, and welcome to our forum.

EE (4th ed.) 4.24 has a note in the header that instructs users to follow Template 7 "Private Holdings (Artifact or Manuscript Document)."

So, in answer to your questions: Why would you not name the hospital (the creator) in Building Block 1, and name/describe the record in Building Block 2 (Title/label)?  Am I correct in assuming that your proposed wording "Heirloom Birth Record ..." is the exact header at the top of the document?

If you'll draft a citation for us, following this template, then we'll have something concrete to analyze.

Ah, I see. The actual document does not have a title; the header only shows the name and location of the hospital. I'm attaching an example of a similar certificate.

Sample hospital birth certificate

So here is my proposed citation (First Reference Note):

Heirloom birth certificate of Mary Jane Doe, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida, [date of birth?]; Koehler Family Collection, privately held by Robert T. Koehler, [address for private use,] Tampa, Florida, 2024.

Submitted byEEon Wed, 04/24/2024 - 09:59

Thanks, rtkoehler. This gives us something concrete to work with.  EE would make one tweak. What you are citing is not a family artifact or “heirloom” that’s been passed down within the family. It's also not an official birth certificate. You are citing a record issued by a hospital. This is covered at EE 512 “Hospital & Physician Records.” The example there, a hospital record issued to an individual and held now in private hands, is also based on Template 7.

Following 5.12, EE would cite it this way:

Hospital certificate of birth, Mary Jane Doe, [date of birth], Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida, [date of birth?]; issued to [name of person], [date of issuance], Koehler Family Collection, privately held by Robert T. Koehler, [address for private use,] Tampa, Florida, 2024.

The name of the person to whom it was issued is part of the provenance of this article. You weren’t the parent; thus, it would not have been issued to you.

The date of the issuance is also part of the provenance of the record. While today, in 2024, it might not seem necessary to cite the 2024 date on which a hospital record was supplied for a 2024 birth, the date the record was issued could become an issue in future years.