What about Clinton's birth certificate? Bush's? Ford's? Kennedy's?
President Barack Obama released his birth certificate Wednesday to defuse claims he was born on foreign soil.
April 28th, 2011
01:46 PM ET

What about Clinton's birth certificate? Bush's? Ford's? Kennedy's?

The controversy over President Barack Obama’s citizenship sharply divided America before the White House decided to release his long-form birth certificate Wednesday.

Some remain unconvinced he's a U.S. citizen. To many, the issue had already been settled. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll last month indicated that three out of four Americans believe Obama was probably or definitely born in the USA. More than 40 percent of Republicans held opposite sentiments.

Often accompanied by accusations of racism, a common cry among those defending Obama is, “Did past presidents make their birth certificates public?”

An interesting question, for sure, so I decided to have a look back over the past 50 years. The short answer is yes, some indeed did. The long answer? Birth certificates for past presidents are squirrelly things and not the easiest to find.

That doesn’t mean they’re not out there hiding on the World Wide Web somewhere, just that I couldn’t find them online over the better part of the morning.

Birth certificates are a state function. The U.S. Census Bureau didn’t begin developing certificates until 1900, and standards weren't conceived until 1902. The responsibility was handed over to the U.S. Public Health Service in 1946 and now resides with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The standard certificates are reviewed every 10 to 15 years, and there have been about a dozen revisions to the standard certificate of live birth. I hate to bore you with birth certificate esoterica, so if you’re interested in a more complete history of our country’s vital records, you can check out this PDF.

For those wondering what a valid birth certificate should contain, the State Department requires that those used for passport applications contain your name, birthplace, birthdate, full parents’ names, a seal from the issuing office, a filing date within one year of your birth and the signature of an “official custodian of birth records.”

With all that in mind, here's a look at the nine presidents before Obama:

John F. Kennedy, born May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts

Several people are offering copies of JFK’s birth certificate for sale, but it’s difficult to find an actual image. There's one photo of the King of Camelot’s birth record on eBay, but it’s too small to read.

Lyndon B. Johnson, born August 27, 1908, in Hye, Texas

LBJ’s certificate of birth is online but, oddly, contains no first name. In the "name of child" blank, it says only, “Johnson.” His birthdate, parents’ names and race, however, are consistent with history.

Richard M. Nixon, born January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California

Nixon’s certificate of live birth is online, but the Los Angeles Times reported last year that it was filed in 1942, when Nixon was 29. Interestingly, there was a controversy in 1959 over whether the 37th president was born in his family home or in a local hospital, the Times reported.

Gerald R. Ford, born July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Nebraska

I couldn’t find Ford’s birth certificate online. Numerous sites indicate that Ford was born Leslie Lynch King Jr., named after his father, but his mother remarried in 1916, and the couple began calling him Gerald Rudolff Ford Jr., after her second husband. Ford apparently didn’t make the change official until 1935, when he also adopted the more common spelling of his middle name, Rudolph.

James Carter, born October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia

No luck finding the birth certificate of the world’s most-famous peanut farmer, but it seems widely accepted that he was the first president born in a hospital. Please let this in no way be construed as commentary on the 1959 Nixon controversy.

Ronald Reagan, born February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois

Aside from Obama’s as of Wednesday, the Gipper’s birth certificate is the easiest to find. It’s online in a few places, and one blog contains a picture of it hanging in the presidential library. One curious aspect: It's signed 1942, more than three decades after Dutch was born.

George H.W. Bush, born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts

Again, no luck, but Obama fans sick of the birther rants may be delighted to know the Internet is rife with conspiracies that the elder Bush was a Nazi spy and the inspiration for the mischievous cartoon monkey Curious George. I’d offer links, but it seems irresponsible to lend these sorts of conspiracies credence.

William J. Clinton, born August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas

Struck out again, though several people claim to have seen it. On an interesting side note, there are conspiracies among astrologists over whether the 42nd president was born at 3:44 a.m. or 8:51 a.m. Apparently, this has horoscopic implications because savvy politicians are “known” to alter their birth data so opponents can’t use the stars against them. There is also a conspiracy about whether Clinton’s real father is named on the birth certificate. For the aforementioned reason regarding Bush I, I will leave you to find links on your own.

George W. Bush, born July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut

The Texas State Archives claims to have it on file, and The New York Times reports that it's on file at the George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

So there you have it, a mixed bag. Some presidents have their birth records online; others don’t.

In anticipation of a possible Transcriptgate, I checked around to see whether these same presidents' college grades were available online. I could find only George W. Bush’s Yale transcript.

soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Mad Hatter

    Maybe the Dem paid off Trump to make the Rep party look like fools. Trump doesn't do anything for free.

    April 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ernest H. Dervishian

    This birther issue is a "Red Herring." The real issue is why this president, on the Holiest Easter Sundays in Armenian History of existence, chose to kill all "Hope" and not recognize the Armenian/Assyrian/Pontian/Chaldean/Shirac etc...etc...Genocides. All Americans of Armenian heritage wanted some words of respect in English to honor the contributions by Veterans of Armenian heritage in WWI, WWII and the Korean conflict.

    Thus, the main issue is who controls United States military honors? Foreign governments or this so-called "American" president. It is one thing to be born in the United States, it is another thing to feel American. I don't think this president feels American. I don't think Donald Trump feels American. He feels more like GE, his boss.

    April 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RUFFNUTT

    Gonna tear apart the camaro again this weekend. Friends got a 327 small block i'm gonna put in. Jeff Frank and that Alien fool we got are right, gas prices are going up.

    April 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jj

    ceasar i see you still havent got a job. milkin the gov't teet... the new american way make us proud my brutha

    April 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RUFFNUTT's Fan Club

    RUFFNUTT, you are our #1 fan, we don't Like You, we Love You! We are very serious in our Fan Club regarding words and meanings. And without you, the word "idiot" would not exist in the English language. Thank you for your fine contribution and we deeply admire your work.

    April 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dee

    Why is the media fostering this madness? I'm convinced that trump is the new palin...Doesn't the media have any responsibility for ridiculous coverage?

    April 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Media

      No we do not. Just like we don't have any responsibility for idiots like RUFFNUTT and Cesar posting comments to our ridiculous coverage.

      April 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Independent Disillusion

    What is the one difference between Obama and all those other presidents mentioned? NO, not that he is (half)black. Obama is the only one of those presidents to have a parent who was NOT a citizen of the United States of America. Does not matter if his daddy was from Norway or Kenya, that started eyebrows raising. Plus, no matter what you think about BHO current religion, his father was MUSLIM and by Muslim law, "Blessed" Hussein Obama is still a Muslim, there is no renouncing Islamic paternal heritage (I am not saying he is a practicing Muslim). Plus, Obama's African relatives SWEAR he was born in Kenya. Are they partisan birther racists!?! All these factors and his mother's quick exit of the States with Barry and her new Muslim hubby to the largest Muslim populated country in the world all contributed to this skepticism toward Obama. It did not get created out of thin air and racism. However, it is time to stop trying to create conspiracy theories that imply that the Secret Service is covering up the fact that they are protecting a man who would technically be a criminal, who committed fraud to get into office, and is committing massive fraud raising money for his illegal campaigns. I do not trust the government, but I do trust that the Secret Service vetted this man and confirmed he was a legal candidate. Time to focus on the fact he is just a tele-prompter reading lightweight who lied concerning 85% of his campaign promises and will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in history. REPUBLICANS, you better get a better candidate than these current choices, cause Obama wins again if any of the current front runners are nominated.

    April 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Harry

    Evidence of citizenship should be provided before one is allowed to be on the ballot for the presidency. A standard should be set up for this, much like that required for a passport. A federal law should be enacted to establish these requirements, and how the process wouild be administered (either by the states, or through a federal overseer).

    It is absurd that it is more difficult to get a passport than to be on the ballot for president.

    April 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy

    Independent Disillusion: Stop. Just stop. All of this birther nonsense is just BS to try to get you to overlook the fact that Ruffie's breath smells like Scope and NOT to watch the video of a guy, his dog, and a cup. Unless you like EXTREME chocolate ice cream that's VERY fresh.

    April 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      you go girl, you go!

      April 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Replay

      Who the cuss are you?

      April 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who?

      A (M)ommy, a cat, and a litter box........

      April 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Tinkle twinkle little star! How I wonder how you are! Up above the sky so high! Like a diamond in the sky!

      Now you coal stones, rocks, n' sticks, green-eyes ho's you can KISS MY GRITS!

      Mmmmm = star

      April 28, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mmmmm

    Yeah! Who the cuss are you?

    April 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy

    Replay.

    April 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who you ask?

      (M)ental (m)idget (m)oronic (m)isfit (m)ommy = Mmmmm

      That's who......

      April 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who you ask?

      *facepalm*

      My heartfelt condolences to the people affected by my nonsense.

      banasy

      April 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lucky

    Dont worry we will find out the truth about everything soon

    April 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SilverHair

    Well, the 'birthers' are noticeably alike – they appear to have been born prematurely, just at the point of viability and severely brain damaged. Poor souls will need full care until they die. Who's going to pay for that??

    April 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nur amabo nur

    I always believed obomber was born in the U.S. The release of his bc should raise some serious questions that have nothing to do with where he was born. Here's a few. How old was obamas mommy when he was conceived? Was his daddy robbing the cradle ? Isn't it true in "61" the requirement for immigration status change was 19 years of residency prior? Can a minor be granted citizenship ? Isn't there a difference between naturalized & natural born ? Can he really be considered african american when he's only half?

    April 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. vanessa

    Obama really u did this to urself

    April 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
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