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HE LEGISLATURE passed an Act which was approved

March 11, 1912, authorizing the State Board of Health an to establish a Bureau of Vital Statistics, and providing

for the registration of Births and Deaths. A copy of the Act will be found on page 4. Section four of this Act provides “that the State Board of Health shall formulate and promulgate rules and regulations for the proper reporting and registration” of births and deaths. These Rules and Regulations will be found on pages five to sixteen inclusive of this bulletin.

In order that the operation of this law be successful, it is necessary that every citizen, especially the physician, give us their hearty co-operation and support in this work.

With the exception of Virginia, Mississippi is the first Southern State to attempt the registration of births and deaths throughout the whole State. North Carolina has been requiring the registration of births and deaths in all municipalities having five hundred or more inhabitants.

Strange as it may seem, yet it is a fact that this State has made no provision for keeping a record of two of the most important events of the human life, i. e., birth and death. The farmer realizes the importance of keeping a record of his horses, cattle, and hogs. Even some dogs and cats are considered of sufficient importance to require such a record, while that of the child is neglected. That this condition exists, is well shown in a story told by Dr. John N. Hurty, Secretary of the Indiana State Board of Health.

Farmer Hadley, of Indiana, dying, left his valuable farm in trust to his unthrifty son, to go to his granddaughter on her twenty-first birthday. The girl had been told the date of her birth and always celebrated as her birth-day the annual recurrence of the same. However, when she believed she was 21, then claimed her inheritance, her father denied her age, saying she was only 19. The family Bible was appealed to, but the leaf with the record was gone. The court was in a quandary. A Solomon as needed for judgment. At last a neighbor remembered that a valuable cow belonging to the grandfather had given birth to a calf on the day the girl was born, and he could swear to it. Perhaps the grandfather had recorded the date of the birth of the calf. His farm books showed this to be the case.

Through the record of the calf and the memory of a neighbor the date of birth of the girl was established. Had a record of her birth been filed in the proper manner, it would have been impossible for some interested person to destroy the record, as was, in all probability done in this case.

This is one of the most important laws ever enacted in the State. It serves two purposes in requiring a certificate to be filed for each birth and death that occurs. First, it will afford a legal record of each event. Second, the records will be of value as a guide to the sanitarian. A fire-proof vault has been built where these records will be preserved for future use, and they will prove of inestimable value.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

LIBRARIES

266892 MARCH 1930

HEALTH BULLETIN

LEGAL VALUE. The death records are often necessary in the administration of estates, and settlement of insurance and pension claims. The birth records are of value in establishing the school age, age of consent, age for entrance to practice in the various professions, and the age for voting, jury and military service. The birth records afford the only means of prohibiting child labor.

USEFUL TO SANITARIAN.

The conservation of human life depends entirely upon having a record of deaths in order that the State Board of Health and the local health authorities may know the exact conditions existing in each community. Professor Irving Fisher of Yale, in his report to the Conservation Congress, estimated that 42.3 per cent of the deaths were prevent. able or postponable. Assuming that this State has a death rate of 16 per 1,000 living population, (judging from other States having only a small negro population) we know that the above rate is very conservative. With the above death rate, it would mean more than 29,000 deaths annually in this State, and placing the average value of a human life at $1,700, it would mean an annual loss of more than $20,500,000 by deaths that could be prevented or postponed.

The unnecessary number of deaths do not all come from the communicable diseases that we look upon with horror; about one-fifth of all deaths occur under one year of age, and that we may know how to successfully reduce the deaths among infants under one year of age it is necessary that we have complete records of the births that occur.

LAW GOES INTO EFFECT NOVEMBER 1ST, 1912.

For the purpose of this Act, each city, town village and election precinct is made a primary registration district, and a Local Registrar has been selected for each, except in a few instances, where a municipality and voting precinct has been combined. There is a sufficient number of Local Registrars, and they are so located that the operation of this law should not inconvenience any person to any extent.

It will not be possible to start this work before November 1st, as some of the blanks are still in the hands of the printer, and of the 1,176 Local Registrars which we will have, 135 are yet to be selected.

DEATHS.

In case of a death, the body cannot be disposed of by burial, or otherwise, until the undertaker (or person acting as such) has filed a certificate of death with the Local Registrar of the municipality or voting precinct in which the death occurred, and procure from him a burial or removal permit. The undertaker (or person acting as such) must hand the burial or removal permit to the sexton, or person in charge of the cemetery or the burial ground in which the interment is made.

BIRTHS.

The Physician or Midwife in attendance at a birth are required to file a certificate of Birth within ten days, with the Local Registrar of municipality or voting precinct in which the birth occurs. When no physician or midwife is in attendance, it shall be the duty of the father or mother of the child, householder or owner of the premises,

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HEALTH BULLETIN

manager or superintendent of public or private institutions in which the birth occurred, to report the same to the Local Registrar within ten days from date of birth.

PHYSICIAN.

The physician is held responsible for making the report of each birth attended by him. And for making the medical statement of death required upon the death certificate.

MIDWIFE.

The midwife is required to report each birth attended by her. But in no case is a midwife permitted to make the medical statement, and sign the death certificate.

UNDERTAKER

(Or Person Acting As Such.) The undertaker is held responsible for obtaining the personal particulars as required on the death certificate, (Items 1 to 14) the same to be made over the signature of the informant. The death certificate is then presented to the physician last in attendance for the medical statement; if there was no physician in attendance the fact should be reported to the Local Registrar and he will proceed to obtain the medical statement as provided in Rule 12. It then becomes necessary for the undertaker (or person acting as such) to sign his name in the blank space provided for that purpose, giving his address and state the intended place and date of burial. The certificate is then presented to the Local Registrar, who will issue a burial or removal permit. The undertaker (or person acting as such) presents the permit to the sexton or person in charge of the cemetery or burial ground in which the interment is made, and in case there is no sexton or person in charge, his procedure is defined in Rule 17.

UNDERTAKER AND RETAIL CASKET DEALERS.

Any person, firm or corporation selling a casket at retail is required to keep a record of each casket sold and report such sales to the Bureau of Vital Statistics each month. See Rule 18.

SEXTONS.

Any persons having charge of a burial ground are required to see that no interments are made unless the body is accompanied by a burial or removal permit. In case of private cemeteries or burial grounds, the land owner, if residing upon the premises, if not, then the tenant, within the meaning of the law, is considered a sexton and is held responsible for seeing that compliance with the rules governing the disposition of a dead body are complied with.

Each sexton or person in charge of a burial ground is required to keep a record of each interment made in the premises, under his control, and within ten days after burial, return all burial or removal permits to the Local Registrar of the municipality or voting precinct in which the cemetery or burial ground is located.

BLANKS AND FORMS.

For the registration of Births and Deaths no blanks shall be used except those furnished by the State Board of Health. Local Registrars will be given a sufficient number of all blanks and can supply any person requesting same.

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