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FA-56612-12
A History of Birth Registration in America
Susan Pearson, Northwestern University

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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: http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/content/101/4/1144.full
Access Model: Subscription Only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: The Journal of American History
Publisher: Oxford University Press


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