Delayed birth certificates were issued, on request, for those born before birth registration became mandatory, or those for whom no birth record can be found. Proof of birth was important for many reasons, among them proof of U.S. citizenship and proof of age. In the mid-1930s, one driving force was the requirement of a birth certificate to apply for Social Security. Those applying for a delayed certificate were required to produce documents and witness affidavits verifying the facts of their birth. Such documents might include Family Bible, marriage record, school records, etc. Witnesses were required to have been present or had personal knowledge of the person's birth. This information is often indicated on the delayed certificate when it is issued and may provide even more information than a traditional birth certificate.
The state vital records office (or its equivalent) is the primary keeper of birth and death records, including delayed birth certificates. Records past a certain date, however, may be housed at state archives. For example, the Tennessee State Library & Archives, will accept Delayed Birth Certificate requests by mail for birth years 1869-1909; later years must be requested through state vital records. You may wish to check individual state vital records websites for their holdings. Another good source is Where to Write for Vital Records document. Keep in mind, delayed birth certificates will be recorded in the state of birth (not the state the person were living in when application was made), and women will be recorded under their maiden name.
In addition, a number of delayed birth certificates (or indexes) are available online such as the South Carolina Delayed Births, 1766-1900 and City of Charleston, South Carolina Births, 1877-1901, which includes original images. The benefit of even a printed index is that it will identify the repository for the original records. Delayed birth certificates might also be included in other birth certificate collections.
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