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In the United Kingdom, the government recording of citizen births began in 1837 and it was made compulsory around 1853. All births are recorded in registers.
In the United States, the registry of vital statistics is a responsibility of the state governments. Between 1900 and 1946 the U.S. Census Bureau designed standard birth certificates and collected these statistics on a national basis. In 1946, the law was changed handing this responsibility over to the U.S. Public Health Service. States file a "certificate of live birth" for every individual born in the U.S. These forms are recorded first in the county of birth by a doctor, midwife or hospital administrator, and then sent to the state.
Records for Births Before Certificates
As mentioned previously, births prior to 1900 in the United States, and prior to 1857 in the United Kingdom were predominantly recorded in family bibles, parish records and church registries. These are your best principal sources for official birth records of ancestors prior to the modern age. However, there are a wide variety of other resources utilized by genealogists to obtain free public birth records.
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