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09 April 2013

Did They Write It In Later?

My grandfather's official birth record at the local county courthouse from 1903 appears to have been written on by at least three different people. The majority of the record appears to be in the same hand as other records on the same page--what's in a different ink is his last name and his first and middle names. It almost appears as though someone wrote in his last name later, when it was noticed that the name of the child had been left completely blank. The last name matches his father's last name--that's not the issue and a later clerk most likely realized the last name was missing from the record. His first and middle names are in a different ink as well. That makes me wonder if he didn't come in for a copy of his birth record, and upon seeing his first and middle names had been left off, the clerk simply wrote them in. After all, there weren't too many children born to Charles and Fannie Neill in 1903.

And when I transcribe it, I need to make a notation about the apparent differences in the handwriting.


  1. It is difficult to detect differences in ink color, etc. when using photocopied or microfilmed records.

  2. It is hard to tell when using black and white images--only if the handwriting is clearly different can one be certain. That's one of the drawbacks to filmed records--although having materials on film is better than not having them at all--usually.

  3. I had a similar experience when I received my husband's father's birth certificate. His first name was handwritten and his middle and last names were typed. Also, there was a stamp noting it had been altered with noting the change was based on the mother's supplemental report and the date of the change. When I wrote Vital Statistics to get a copy of the report, I was told "we do not have the supplemental report on file."
    I'm sure the error was discovered when he enlisted in the service toward the end of WWII as his enlistment year and the year of the change were the same. It just amazes me they never had an instance where they needed his birth certificate before he turned 18!