Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Food For Thought: Birth Certificates

In yesterday's New York Times there was a very interesting article called "Who's On the Family Tree? Now It's Complicated" about how complex families have become.  The article digs into the issues of modern day families that include half-siblings, step-siblings (not that those both haven't been around for a very long time) sperm donation, surrogate mothers, same sex couples, etc.  It seems like future genealogists are going to have their hands full trying to keep track of it all.

One paragraph in the article really struck me:

"Even birth certificate reporting is catching up. New questions are being phased in nationally on the standard birth certificate questionnaire about whether, and what type of, reproductive technology was used, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

I was caught off guard that birth certificate questions had changed.  These questions weren't available when I gave birth to my last child just six years ago.  But the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea that these questions were being included on birth certificates.  

This is really pertinent information that a genealogist of the future might not otherwise know if the information weren't available on the birth certificate.  I think it will go a long way in helping future genealogists understand their ancestors.

I think that adding information about reproductive technology is a good start.  But maybe more information needs to be added. 

What information would you like to see added to birth certificates to help clarify details about birth? 

Do you think it's right, in the first place, for this information to be collected? 

How much information is too much or too little information?

Where do we go from here?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this.

Source: Holson, Laura M. "Who's On the Family Tree? Now It's Complicated." The New York Times, 4 July 2011. Online version. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/us/05tree.html?_r=1&src=tptw : 2011.


  1. I'd love to see as much information as possible. I can't really say how much is too much because the bottom line is due to embarrassment someone could always lie (which we always would hope isn't the case). I'm delighted that these changes are being made. They will seriously help future genealogists.

  2. There can never be ENOUGH information! Truth is always better then not knowing! Glad to see it's being considered.