Tag: Vital Statistics

Vital Records and Vital Statistics: The Backbone of Public Health in America

Course Objectives

  • Outline the history of civil registration in what is now known as the United States of America.
  • Identify the Constitutional, legislative, and regulatory foundations that govern the functioning of the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS).
  • Describe methods for accessing vital event data for research purposes
  • Analyze the forces that have made vital records important.
  • Describe the process and parties involved in registering a death.
  • Describe the process and parties involved in registering a birth
  • Explain the importance of records management to the maintenance of vital records and the operations of vital records offices.
  • Characterize the importance of the integrity of the information on birth and death certificates
  • Give reasons for the basic principles of vital records corrections and amendments.
  • Describe how vital statistics laws are modified in the United States.
  • Analyze frequently-proposed legislation.

Date: March 2021

Presenter:
Gretchen Van Wye, PhD, MA
Assistant Commissioner and Registrar, Bureau of Vital Statistics, 
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


If you had to develop a public health intervention designed to protect basic human rights, connect your target population with upstream social determinants of health like education, housing, and income, and ensure that their existential drive to exist were acknowledged, a birth certificate just might be it. Invisible and mundane to most of the world, birth certificates – and death certificates, as well – document the stories how of humans come into and go out of this world. And, come and go they do. Vital records are the documents that catalog these experiences millions of times each year in the U.S., and vital statistics are the subset of the information on these records that public health students and professionals know and love.

This course focuses on the history, policy, management, and protection of vital records and vital statistics in the United States and will open learners’ eyes to the surprisingly fascinating world of vital events.

Learners who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Outline the history of civil registration in what is now known as the United States of America.
  • Identify the Constitutional, legislative, and regulatory foundations that govern the functioning of the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS).
  • Describe methods for accessing vital event data for research purposes
  • Analyze the forces that have made vital records important.
  • Describe the process and parties involved in registering a death.
  • Describe the process and parties involved in registering a birth
  • Explain the importance of records management to the maintenance of vital records and the operations of vital records offices.
  • Characterize the importance of the integrity of the information on birth and death certificates
  • Give reasons for the basic principles of vital records corrections and amendments.
  • Describe how vital statistics laws are modified in the United States.
  • Analyze frequently-proposed legislation.
Region 2 Public Health Training Center