Thursday, June 04, 2009


Today's Genealogy Tip of the Day comes from presidential family historian and convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy.

LIDDY: Well, here’s the thing. The document you speak of is a “certificate of live birth,” which is not a birth certificate. You can’t get a passport with that, you can’t even register your kids…

WOLFFE: Yes you can. That’s what I do. That’s what everyone does. The certificate of live birth is exactly what you get a passport with.

LIDDY: No, it’s a birth certificate.

WOLFFE: That’s — the copy of the birth certificate, everyone has copies of birth certificates. They use them all the time. Nobody hands out the one original document.

LIDDY: No, I wouldn’t expect them to. [Link]
I don't remember Gordon getting this hot and bothered by the circumstances of Chester A. Arthur's birth. Perhaps because Chester A. Arthur was a Republican. And died in 1886.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Wow, Chris, this takes me back. I went to school with Liddy's kids and lived in the same neighborhood. He was unusual even then. I have some peculiar memories . . .


FWIW I just got a passport. I had to give them my original birth certificate. No copies are accepted. They did send it back to me with teh passport though.


I suppose it depends on what you mean by "original" and "copy." The original record of my birth is located in the town where I was born. I have a certified copy of this record which is, by definition, a birth certificate (it certifies that the stated details of my birth are true). One could call this an "original" birth certificate, and it would be acceptable as identification if I applied for a passport. A simple photocopy of this certificate wouldn't be acceptable, because the copy wouldn't be certified. Also, "some short (abstract) versions of birth certificates" would not be acceptable by the passport authorities.

I have no reason to doubt that Barack Obama's birth certificate (not this digital "image copy," but the original certified copy that was scanned for the website) would be acceptable for identification purposes. And for genealogical purposes, if he's reading this blog and wants to hire me.

Family Pursuit

If you want to get really technical, I would think the most "original" form of the birth information is the form that you fill out right after the child is born (assuming you had the baby in a hospital, which most people do.) I assume the state keeps these original forms on file while they condense the info onto the official state paper with the official state stamp. There was alot of information asked for on the form that I filled out that isn't on the birth certificate for any of my children.

Either way, Liddy is trying to make a mountain out of nothing. I'm glad the state govt holds on to the "original" birth certificate otherwise genealogy research would be even harder.


True, and I would guess that a certified copy of a hospital record would suffice in cases where a birth was not recorded by the civil authorities.

In addition to my "official" birth certificate I have a souvenir certificate from the hospital with my little footprints on it. I wonder if Obama has one of these, and if producing it would satisfy Liddy and his buddies. Probably not.

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