Posted by: Genealogical Services | December 31, 2010

Vital Records – Birth Certificates in NC

Vital records are the cornerstone of genealogical research. In North
Carolina, birth certificates were not recorded until 1913 when the state’s General Assembly passed a law “An Act to Provide for the Registration of all Births and Deaths in the State of North Carolina.” Although the 1913 law required all births to be recorded, many births during this period still took place in the home, not a hospital, so enforcement of the law took some time. The exception to this is the cities of Raleigh and Wilmington. Raleigh began recording births as early as 1890 and Wilmington began in 1904. Births were not recorded regularly until World War II. The 1913 law stated in section 13 “That within ten days after the date of each birth there shall be filed with the local registrar of the district in which the birth occurred a certificate of such birth…”. Section 14 of the law outlines the information that is to be included on the certificate:

  • Place of birth – including state, county, and town/township/city. If the place is a city, they must also include the ward of the city.  If born at home, the street name and house number must also be included. If born in a hospital, the name and address of the hospital must be given.
  • Full name of the child – Provisions are made for children who have not been named and die before the certificate is filed; also for those who have not died and not been named before the certificate is filed. In the case of infant death and the child is unnamed, they are to be listed as “unnamed” followed by the surname. If the child lives, but not given a name before the certificate is filed, their name is
    to be left blank and a supplemental report to be filed when the child is later named.
  • Whether the child is a boy or girl
  • Whether the child is a twin, triplet, or other plural births – separate certificates are required for each child. If the child is of a plural birth, the order they were born is given
  • Date of birth – month, day, and year
  • Full name (and maiden name) of father and mother – if the child is illegitimate, the father can only be named with his permission
  • Residence of the father and mother
  • Race of the father and mother
  • Educational levels of the father and mother
  • Occupation of the father and mother
  • Number of births born to the mother – how many children total were born to this mother and how many of them are still living, including the present birth
  • Certificate of attending physician or midwife and the exact date of filing

Birth certificates are not available on microfilm due to privacy restrictions, but the North Carolina State Archives has an index of birth certificates available on microfiche. The index includes birth certificates from 1913-2000 as well as delayed birth records that go back as far as 1800.

To learn more about the location of vital records in North Carolina, Genealogical Services has created an informational sheet (

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