BIRTH RECORDS  EXPLAINED

 

 

The Madison County Courthouse holds official birth records from 1880 through June 1904, and July 1906 through current. Certain restrictions on release of data apply to the County Recorders. For more information on these restrictions, click here. The two years Jul 1904 to Jun 1906 are held by the Iowa Department of Public Health. In early 2017, the birth records held by the state were made available and have been incorporated in the Birth List with the source being Iowa State Birth Record (ISBR). To request a birth certificate from the IDPH, click here

Official Birth Record Sources

MCBR - Madison County Birth Records: The recording of official birth records began in Jul 1880. The births were recorded in large books in the County Recorder's office. A separate book was used to record stillbirths which the state has sealed from access. There was no enforcement of birth registration and large numbers of births went unregistered in the 1800s and a significant number were not recorded all the way up to 1920.

IDCB - Iowa Delayed Certificate of Birth: For those folks who were not registered at birth (and there were many), Iowa would issue a delayed certificate of birth if applied for. Images of these documents are available on line (FamilySearch.org & Ancestry) and have been incorporated in the Birth List. In processing these records, it appears that as often as not, the place of birth noted in the record is the Post Office and not necessarily the township or in some cases, the county where they were born. Quite a few IDCBs have been found where Earlham was listed as their place of birth when Dallas County was the reality. Also, some St. Charles births were in reality Warren County births. As much as possible, these births have been weeded out of the Madison County Birth List. Researchers should use caution when using the IDCB to verify place of birth and should do additional research where the birth appears to be close to the county line.

ISBR - Iowa State Birth Records: These records cover the two year period Jul 1904 - Jun 1906 when all births were to be recorded at the state level rather than at the county. Transcriptions of these documents were made available by the state in 2017 and have been incorporated in the Birth List. In 2020, more years of state birth records became available and are being used in conjunction with county records when we add a new year's worth of records. The exact nature of the data in the documents is unknown but the transcriptions do not provide the given name of the father nor the mother, only the mother's maiden name. The given names, where known, have been added in red font by the County Coordinator to make finding your ancestors easier.

Unofficial Birth Record Sources

Unofficial birth record sources are published records that may contain information pertaining to a person's birth but may require research from multiple sources to complete the record. For example, state censuses in 1885 and 1895 showed county of birth but not a specific date. County marriage records sometimes showed county of birth but again, not a specific date of birth. Social Security Applications show date of birth but not the specific place. Early newspapers usually lacked the given name and exact date of birth. The point is that when the source listed is not an official record, then research took place to piece together the birth record and the user should not take the information at face value but should do their own due diligence to verify the information.

Census - The 1885 and 1895 Iowa State Censuses recorded each persons county of birth if born in Iowa. For the most part, the enumerators did a good job of following the instructions. Unfortunately, for Madison County, several townships of the 1885 census were lost so that data is unavailable. Sometimes, but rarely, county of birth was recorded in the 1905 and/or 1915 state censuses. Any birth with "Census" in the source column has been verified in at least one of these four censuses as having been born in Madison County.

CMR - County Marriage Records: After Jul 1880, more extensive data was recorded in the county marriage records including place of birth. Many of these records contain county of birth and are used to source the place of birth in our Birth List if no other source is available.

Draft Registration: Some WWI draft registration forms and all WWII draft registration forms have place of birth listed on them and have been used to verify county of birth in our Birth List. Caution is advised because place of birth on these forms was often interpreted as nearest Post Office rather than actual county of birth and this could cause confusion if the person lived close to the county line and received mail through a P. O. in an adjacent county.

Newspapers: Many births that did not get registered were mentioned in the county's newspapers, almost universally without given name. Newspaper mentions of births have been used as sources for place of birth where no better source has been found.

Obituaries: Published obituaries often list date and place of birth and is a resource you can turn to when no other records exist. 

Social Security Application:  Place of birth was a requirement on Social Security Applications and has been used as source data when no other is available.

State Death Record: State death records usually have the person's date and place of birth although often, place of birth may list a state without further detail. Birth information for Death Records and Obituaries usually comes from a surviving relative of the deceased so there is a chance for inaccuracy.

Unverified: Despite all of the available ways to source birthplace, many births have been found to be unverifiable. Our Birth List includes persons whom, mostly through census data, appear to have been born in Madison County but no credible source has been found to confirm it.

Unverified (Cem): This category includes likely Madison County births where the person has no formal birth registration and was not alive when a census could have proved place of birth.

Maintained by the County Coordinator

This page was created 06  May 2008.
This page was last updated Thursday, 15-Apr-2021 15:29:15 EDT .