One thing that I’ve learned from this project is that when requesting documents, the response you get is very binary – either you get a very firm ‘NO’ or a handful of beautiful, stamped documents.

I’ve had two hiccups this week with the documents I’ve requested.

The most troublesome one is my grandfather’s (William’s) birth certificate. When I sent the Maryland documents in, I got a response the exact same package I sent (the 4 request forms and thank god, the check), plus an additional document with the very harsh words:


The document contained a copy of the laws regarding document control, and the handwritten note: “Your not entitled to the births. Ms. Kennedy.” Ms. Kennedy could have given a little more information (and probably learned the proper grammar of ‘you’re‘).

I reviewed Code of Maryland regulations *yawn* Sure enough, you can only get a birth certificate in Maryland if you are the person in question, their parent/guardian, an authorized representative (notarized and everything). This is complicated because I am none of these, and can’t exactly have my dead grandfather show up at the notary with me.

So the phone calls began, and William falls in a very muddy area. He was born in 1927. All birth records in Maryland that occurred before 1925 are stored in the Maryland State archives, which would be easy to get a record from, but unfortunately, William was born in 1927. So really, this poses an impossible situation to get a document, the record is too new to be given away without authorization, but that authorization is 6 feet below ground.

So, after talking to a gentlemen at the MD Vital Statistics office, I’m going to have to do the following things and then call him back:

  • Obtain a copy of the death record of William (which I need anyway, but its not the point).
  • Provide proof that I’m pursuing Italian Dual Citizenship (i.e. fill out the application early)
  • Get a notarized letter of intent (i.e. write a letter about the process and spend money at a notary.)
  • Call him back and he’ll “consider” it.

It’s very clear that I am nothing but a pain for this man, and he’s giving me a very difficult hurdle just for the inconvenience. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be sufficient to show him the birth certificates of my mom, which would show that I am a direct descendant. I may take this route anyway, so during lunch today, I will be calling them again asking to talk to someone else.

So, if you are reading this for advice, the big takeaway is that it’s worth the extra postage to send individual requests. If I had, I’d still have my birth certificate and William’s death certificate in hand.

I would not have my mothers, since I don’t meet conditions above either. She’ll have to attend a notary with me as well.

I also had a hangup with West Virginia marriage records for William and Joan. They have returned the check and informed me that they marriage record exists in the county courthouse where the marriage took place. The provided a contact name and address, which simply shows the stark difference between MD and WV records’ office.

Total cost of this stage: -$48 (returned check) – $12 (Bill-Joan returned check) + $12 (my birth cert.) + $12 (William’s death cert.) + (.44 x 8 stamps)= -$20.48

Total cost so far: $154.09