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. nur amabo nur

    Why did Trump even bring up this subject ? Was he concerned about policy? If D.T. Was concerned about presidential policy why would he not be concerned about other policies regarding eligibility in other political offices ? Rahm Emanuel is not eligible to run for mayor of Chicago because he has not sustained residency in Chicago for the required 2 years before running. That's the policy yet Trump has contributed to his campaign. Being that Emanuel & obomber are very close buddies I highly doubt anything more than a dog & pony show.

    April 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. curious meee

    Republicans wonder why they're going to lose the white house again? grow a pair and do something useful for this dying country

    April 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • sandyk

      OMgosh! I second that. Please.... It is hard for conservatives to even see someone who would have a chance.

      April 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dim Mak

    Honestly.... What is wrong with you people? Someone once said America will die from within and not by a foreign enemy, and I'm starting to believe that. 300,000,000+ million morons can't keep things going the way they are.

    April 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • lulz

      lmfao 300,000,000 million morons!

      that's three hundred million million morons, moron.

      there's only about seven thousand million people on the planet.

      April 29, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. curious meee

    @nur amabo nur. .read up on things idiot emanuel has been mayor for several months

    April 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. One God Only

    There is only ONE GOD, there is no son, Jesus and the cross are the emblem of child abusers. The pope and the church are the cover for this disgusting practice, shame

    April 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. sandyk

    I am sorry but would someone please tell me that the signature of the registar is not UKL Lee...

    April 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. nur amabo nur

    Ok replace is w/was point is still 100% valid. And I agree Emanuel is an idiot.

    April 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Dim Mak

    @One God Only: I second that. Those whom are baptized as Christians are treated like Job was, because they are working with the devil to collect souls. We are faced with lies and temptation every day for this single purpose and to instill such guilt in the tormented that they grasp for any hope even a false prophet that contradicts the first commandment. Be strong for I trust God will handle his business when all is said and done.

    April 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Tanya

    If Obama was born in Hawaii then why didn't he provide proof of citizenship when people were questioning his place of birth during his Presidential campaign. Why did he need to request a copy of his certificate of live birth from Hawaii? That alone makes me question of the validity it. Doesn't he have his original birth certificate? My original birth certificate has my foot prints and a gold seal and I was born in 1965 in Pennsylvania. I agree with Harry. There should be a federal law for Presidential canidates to provide evidence of citizenship before they are allowed to be on the ballot. Why doesn't Obama pass a federal law requiring future presidential canidates to provide this information prior to running for President so that future Presidents don't have to go through what he has gone through regarding this issue. He had no problem pushing through the new Health Care bill, so this law should be a piece of cake for him to pass through Congress. I think registered Republican voters will see this as one more reason NOT to reelect Obama.

    April 28, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. tkb

    Sherry – Where have you been? We've had a faulty government for years, especially when it comes to Senators and House Representives. Congressman have been using tax payers money to live the high life for a long time. And that's just one reason. I'm sure there are many more.

    Marie – I don't think people are questioning his birth place because he is black. I think part of it is because he is Muslim and we are at war with Muslims in the middle east. It may seem like people are sterotyping but I completely understand why some US citizens are concerned and are questioning his birth place.

    April 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. popeye

    CNN don't let me post thanks crappy/news /nimrods

    April 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. popeye

    Thanks tkb well-defined couldn't post what I wanted to though.

    April 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Wake Up Stupid!

    Reading this BS is making my eyes bleed! It does not matter where he was born. He is a citizen of the US because his mother was. You brain dead morons should know this. The children of out military as well as US citizens traveling abroad, have this same right. If my pregnant wife & I travel to another country, She goes into labor & has our baby... It's still a US citizen. If you can't wrap your brain around that... You are Very racist. So racist you think your not. The KKK changed it's name... It's now called the Tea Party.

    April 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Big Game James

    Shove all your birth certificate crap up your asses. Please don't insult my intelligence with its not his color its his politics. He's smarter than you. Cooler than you and gosh darn it people like him! Your grades at Bumblefu@k Community College would not compare to his grades at Harvard if you were a straight A student and Obama was at the very bottom of his class he would still be substantially more qualified than any of you. Get over it. A black guy runs things. Next.

    April 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. a 14 year old who somewhat cares about politics

    To the average young person, this is a load of crap. Yes, he's black. Big whoop. Doesn't mean he's not a citizen. Are you people not the same generation teaching their children that all people are equal? Stop being freakin' hypocrites and realize that everyone actually is. You should not judge him by his color, but by how he runs our country, which have no relationship whatsoever. When he took office, we were in a war, which isn't exactly the best place to be, due to the fact that the military is a huge (and if I may say so too huge) part of our economy. Yes, he did say he'd try to pull some troops out, but that's definitely not as easy as it seems. And if you think he's doing a bad job about the economy, could you do better? If so, I'm pretty sure you'd be a politician. He's very qualified for this job, and I don't see why people don't understand this. And to the people who think that his relatives say he was born in Kenya, what tabloid bs have you been reading? Honestly, I think there are much better conspiracy fiction novels out there. Personally I'd recommend Dan Brown books, maybe your racist little mind would actually learn something.

    April 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.