My father was born on 17 December 1909 in North Carolina. This was in the years prior to the state’s requirement that all births be recorded on a birth certificate. It was not until 1974 that he began the process of preparing to apply for the Social Security retirement benefits. He was required to provide a birth certificate or a minimum of three alternate proofs of his date of birth. When he told my mother and me, I began suggesting other types of records he might be able to use. Since my Grandmother Morgan had introduced me to our Revolutionary War ancestry over a decade before, I had become an avid family historian. Our local public librarian was a member of the local chapter of the D.A.R., and she introduced me to many records types and research principles. As a result, my father was not surprised that I had suggestions for different items he might locate and use as alternative proofs of his date and place of birth.
The identification and location of alternate proofs of birth is a challenge that I have faced with many of my ancestors, especially those born before the 1920s. Many of the records I have uncovered may well be considered “original records,” but some of these also are secondary sources of information. That is because the evidence may have been remembered or derived from some other source. Keep this in mind as you review the following list of possible alternate sources.
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