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Products for grant FA-56612-12

A History of Birth Registration in America
Susan Pearson, Northwestern University

Grant details:

Age Ought to Be a Fact: The Campaign Against Child Labor and the Rise of the Birth Certificate (Article)
Title: Age Ought to Be a Fact: The Campaign Against Child Labor and the Rise of the Birth Certificate
Author: Susan Pearson
Abstract: Susan Pearson examines how the Progressive-era campaign against child labor transformed birth certificates into the most privileged evidence of individual identity. In the late nineteenth century, when child labor laws were first passed, parental testimonials about children’s ages were considered adequate proof of age. Beginning in the early twentieth century, however, revised laws required children and their parents to submit "documentary proof" of age, preferably in the form of a birth certificate. This article argues that such legal and administrative changes not only clashed with working class notions about "age" but also transformed the structure of epistemological authority. The replacement of affidavits of age with birth certificates made age an objective fact and gave state-produced documents the status of truth.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Access Model: Subscription Only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: The Journal of American History
Publisher: Oxford University Press

The Birth Certificate: An American History (Book)
Title: The Birth Certificate: An American History
Author: Susan J. Pearson
Abstract: For many Americans, the birth certificate is a mundane piece of paper, unearthed from deep storage when applying for a driver's license, verifying information for new employers, or claiming state and federal benefits. Yet as Donald Trump and his fellow "birthers" reminded us when they claimed that Barack Obama wasn't an American citizen, it plays a central role in determining identity and citizenship. In The Birth Certificate: An American History, award-winning historian Susan J. Pearson traces the document's two-hundred-year history to explain when, how, and why birth certificates came to matter so much in the United States. Deftly weaving together social, political, and legal history, The Birth Certificate is a fascinating biography of a piece of paper that grounds our understanding of how those who live in the United States are considered Americans.
Year: 2021
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9781469665689
Copy sent to NEH?: No