Documenting Wyoming Births Since 1909
(WSA Sub Neg 1772, Nurses with babies on steps, Rock Springs, May 16, 1929)
Though the State of Wyoming did not begin to keep track of births until 1909, a birth record may still be available
- Delayed Birth Certificates: These are issued by the Department of Health for births that happened long before the certificate was issued (ex. issued in 1940 for a birth in 1910). In the early years, eye-witness testimony (doctors, midwives, parents, close relatives) was accepted as documentation. Today, the applicant must provide at least two documents that were created before they turned 13 years old and include their name, date of birth and, preferably, place of birth. Church records are no longer accepted as documentation of births.
- Local birth registers: Some communities registered births at the local or county level prior to 1909. Most of these have been transferred to the Wyoming State Archives and a listing of names is available on-site or by request.
- Albany County: births beginning in 1899
- Fremont County: Shoshone Indian Reservation, 1884 births
- Laramie County: births from February to April 1896
- Niobrara County: births dating from 1892
Stillbirths and Miscarriages
Most miscarriages were not issued certificates unless they were nearly full term. Some early stillbirths were issued either birth or death certificates or both. Today, Vital Statistics uses a separate form to register stillbirths.
Where can I order a copy?
Anatomy of an Birth Certificate
Birth certificate for Patrick Phillip Slattery, the 9th child born to Edmund and Porah Slattery of Lusk, Wyoming. The family later moved to South Dakota and, according to the 1940 US Census, at least another 8 children were added to the family. (Wyoming Vital Records birth certificate #522, 1912)
Birth certificates can contain a wealth of information, including:
- Name of the child
- Date of birth of the child
- Place of birth of the child
- Gender of the child
- Names of both parents, usually including the mother's maiden name
- Age and birthplace of both parents
- Occupations of both parents
- Name of physician or attending midwife
- Race or ethnicity of both parents
Some certificates also include:
- The birth order of the child
- The number of children born to the mother and how many are living at the time
- Whether the child was "legitimate" or born out of wedlock
Often, this information is more accuate than on a death certificate as the informant is often a parent, and thus has first hand knowledge of the facts. That being said, corroborating evidence is still important.
- Name changes or corrections can be filed before or after the certificate, so check the documents surrounding the one you are interested in.
For more information on a birth, or to find corroborating records, look for:
- Birth announcements in the local newspaper
- Baptismal records at the family chuch
- Family bibles
- Other vital records or legal documents
Why 100 years?
Birth certificates and the information they contain are very useful to identity theives. To better protect Wyomingites, the Wyoming Department of Health has restricted these records for 100 years and require an application and proof of identity to view any created less than 100 years ago. After that time has passed, the certificates become open public records, available to anyone without an application.
Is This A Primary Source?
Maybe. If the birth certificate was issued at the time of birth, the information would have been provided by the child's parents (1st hand account). If the certificate was issued long after the birth (delayed certificates), the person was required to provided supporting documentation. Early on, this could include statements from close relatives, doctors, or others who attended the birth and may or may not be accurate or 1st hand knowledge. Today, this type of documentation is no longer accepted, but the certificate may list corroborating records.
Citing a Birth Certificate
Citiations are an important part of documenting your search and add credibility (and reliability) to your research.
[Name of person], [year/certificate number], birth certificate, Vital Statistics Unit, Wyoming Department of Health, [repository].
Patrick Phillip Slattery, #522/1912, birth certificate, Vital Statistics Unit, Wyoming Department of Health, as on file at the Wyoming State Archives.