This week, my father and I (my mother hitched along) made a trip to a town’s municipal hall in New Jersey where my parents got married almost 49 years ago. The reason for this trip is to put in a request to correcting a vital record – my parents’ marriage certificate. I first discovered a couple of errors a few years ago when I applied for my dual citizenship. I sent in a form to the town, but never heard back. I just dropped a ball on this one.
Going forward to this year, I picked up working on my genealogy again. I decided that making a trip to the town is the best option especially when my father is available (happily retired) and alive. Anyone in the state of New Jersey may put in a request to correct a vital record such as:
- Civil Union
- Domestic Partnership
Correcting a vital record may be varied from state to state. I brought in all proof of certificates/identities of my father and his mother with me. It has to amend my father’s middle initial (handwritten error) and his mother’s maiden name (it listed her married name). The registrar accepted my father’s driver license as a proof of identity and asked for a proof of his mother’s maiden name. I handed over my father’s birth certificate. The registrar smiled, so did my Nana knowing that her maiden name is being amended on my parents’ marriage certificate.
After the registrar filled out the form using computer (typed format – much better than handwritten format) and printed it for my father to sign, she handed the copy of unsigned form to my father. I, of course, scrutinized to ensure the amended information are correct on the form my father was going to sign. They were, so my father signed it off. 🙂 She explained that it takes around a month for amendment to occur as the form is being sent to the capital of the state – Trenton, New Jersey USA. If we put in a request a copy of my parents’ marriage certificate, we will get two copies – original ones (with errors) and amended ones. Interesting! The cost of putting in a request – $0.00 USD – not a penny. 🙂 However, I do suggest you to call your registrar to see if s/he will be in her/his office on the day you are coming in. A few days earlier, my parents and I came to the town’s municipal hall and the registrar was out training for few days. ARGH! Our fault.
All of this took around 10 minutes – give or take. One down and few to go! My next task is to fix my paternal grandfather’s death certificate – it listed his nationality as a Greek. It is understandable error as he was born in Greece during Italy famine, but his parents were Italian, so he was Italian. We could just ignore it, but as I explained to my parents that years from now, someone from our family may get confused by looking at that record and thinking my Pop was must be a Greek, not Italian. I feel responsibility to get this amended for once and all. It is a lot easier when my father is around and available too.
Speaking of proof of identity and nationality, I haven’t locate his and his parents’ birth certificates (challenging tasks as birth certificates in Italy and Greece are not fully indexed and in their native language…..handwritten in mid-late 1800’s….whoa!), but I do have some copies of the Federal Census in 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 listing his nationality as Italian. This should back up as a proof my Pop was not a Greek! 🙂 Good thing that his death occurred in New Jersey, so sometimes in next few weeks, my parents and I will make a trip to that town to put in a request to correct the vital record there.
If you see any errors with your family’s vital record(s), I encourage you to explore your options and take some action to make a correction. It may be easier if it applies to yourself, your parents, and your grandparents. It may be challenging beyond great-grandparents and other relatives such as your siblings and cousins.