Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Isabel Amey's Birth Certificate Lacks the Day of Her Birth

Leah Smith

14 March 2016

Homework for Dear Myrtle's Elizabeth Shown Mills Study Group Week 1

Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 1: Analysis and Citation,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-1-analysis-citation :  accessed 14 March 2015)

Isabel Emily Amey Certified Birth Record Analysis   
   I have here a certified copy of my grandmother's birth record. It is printed on heavy weight stock of a pinkish color with navy blue borders and seals. A copy of the record form submitted to the state of New Hampshire by the Clarksville, NH town clerk is on the certificate. Printed toward the bottom of the form is the following statement. "I HEREBY CERTIFY  THAT THIS IS A TRUE ABSTRACT ISSUED FROM THE OFFICIAL RECORDS ON FILE AT THIS OFFICE"  The signature of the State Registrar and an official stamp appear just below that statement.  It also bears a stamp stating, "Original Records filed in Town Clerk's Office in chronological order with other records for the year "  1907 is handwritten after the word year.  A number stamped in red ink is just above the state seal on the bottom left. 
    Upon close examination, I see that her first name, Isabelle, is spelled differently than she spelled it, and that her middle initial "E," rather than her middle name of Emily appears. The day of her birth is missing, and the month is June rather than May when she celebrated her birthday.  Her place of birth, Clarksville, New Hampshire, was also the residence of her parents. Thomas Amey was the name of her father, but other records indicate that he was born in Pittsburg, New Hampshire and not Clarksville, New Hampshire as appears on this record. His residence, age and occupation are in agreement with other sources.  Ardelle  was the middle name of Isabel's mother, and her first name, Nellie does not appear on this record. (Isabel's mother was sometimes identified as Ardel or Dell in both vital and census records.)  Ardelle's maiden name, age, occupation and residence are in agreement with other records. Isabelle was listed as the fourth child.  She was the fourth child of this family, but the eighth or ninth child of  Nellie Ardelle Luther.  
   F. W. McLaughlin of W. Stewartstown, NH was listed as the physician or attendant at birth.  The name does not indicate whether or not he/she was a physician, but I know from Report of the State Board of Health of the State of New Hampshire for the Two Years Ending ..., Volume 20,  Published by Arthur E. Clark public printer 1908, and found on Google Books, that there was a Dr. F. W. McLaughlin of West Stewartstown at that time.
   There are two problems with this record. 
   Firstly - The day of the month is missing. 
   Secondly - The month may be incorrect. My grandmother always celebrated her birthday on May 23rd.
   This is certainly the official birth record for my grandmother. I would use it as a primary source for her place of birth, and the names of her parents, but not for her date of birth. What could account for the lack of a birth date, and the possibility of an incorrect birth month?  I can only guess, that some time passed before the doctor reported the birth, and he simply did not remember when it occurred. Assuming that the Town Clerk's records were in chronological order as stated, perhaps the birth was recorded in the correct place in the record book according to known birth dates of the births just before and after  my grandmother's.  Clarksville was sparsely populated and there would not have been many births in a year. It is likely, but by no means certain, that my grandmother was born, May 23rd 1907.  She was my grandfather's only daughter, and he may have remembered it as a very special day in his life.
   When my grandmother had to furnish proof of her birth information, no birth record was found in Clarksville, New Hampshire. I seem to remember that she was told the records were destroyed in a fire.  May 23, 1907 was accepted by the Social Security Administration only after my grandmother's half-sister, 20 years her senior, wrote a letter stating that she was present at the birth on May 23, 1907. I do not have a copy of the letter, nor can I verify her statement.


State of New Hampshire, Department of Health & Human Services, Division of Public Health Services, Registrar of Vital Records, and Health Statistics, Certification of Vital Record , Clarksville, Coos County, New Hampshire, Certificate Number 00484485, Isabelle E. Amey, Certified Copy issued  31 January 2000 held in personal collection of author.