Today I saw my mother’s birth certificate for the first time. She was born in Arkansas in the 1920s. Birth certificates from that time and place contain a lot of information: parents ages and occupations, how many previous children the mother has birthed, whether this was a single birth or twins or triplets. Oh, and a box that asks “Legitimate?” It was a great relief to discover my mother is a real, legitimate person, and not a fabrication of some sort.

Wowza! I’m trying to imagine the feelings I would have going through life with a birth certificate marked “Legitimate? – No.” Imagine producing this over and over throughout your life. Or being the mother who has to show up for school enrollment with her child registered officially for life as “not legitimate.” Ouch.

I suppose this is one of those things that was not so good about the good old days.

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