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Grant number: FA-56612-12

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Susan Jennifer Pearson
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL 60208-0001)

A History of Birth Registration in America

Though birth registration and the government-issued birth certificate are ubiquitous and quotidian in the United States, they are also relatively recent phenomena. In the United States, it was not until the 1930s that all states finally recorded upwards of 90% of live births. My book project, Registering Birth: Population and Personhood in American History, details the ways in which a once-locally and unevenly-practiced form of recordkeeping became one of the most essential mechanisms for recording and establishing individual identity. Registering Birth tells the story of this profound change, considering the ways in which the story of recording birth demonstrates patterns of American state development, the emergence of life and health as objects of governance, and the historical and political contingency of both individual identity and age-based distinctions.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
U.S. History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2012 – 8/31/2013