Much discussion has taken place over the penciled notations found on birth certificates in Hawaii from 1961. Here’s an example from President Obama’s birth certificate showing a “9” representing “African.”
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Cold Case Posse devoted a significant part of their second news conference towards making an argument that the code “9” shown on the President’s certificate was inconsistent with the text entry of “African.” The posse made a number of false claims, one of which was that the penciled notation was part of a Hawaii state process of tabulating data for the federal government—actually the federal government did the tabulations themselves from microfilmed certificate copies provided by the states that year1. The second false claim was the the table shown following, captured from a Cold Case Posse video presentation, was the federal table used in 1961—actually it was from 1968 and different from the 1960-61 table.
The Cold Case Posse’s misrepresentations are covered in more detail in my article: “Code ‘9’: the Cold Case Posse’s big lie.”
Examination of a few Hawaiian birth certificates from 1961 proved that the penciled codes are not only inconsistent with the Cold Case Posse’s codes, but also with the real federal codes used in 1961 (where code “9” represents “Other nonwhite’)—Hawaii used their own codes. The question of interest for researchers of Hawaiian birth certificate lore is: what are the race codes?
From various known certificates, I pieced together what we knew about the race coding and published that in my article: “1961 Hawaii Race codes: disclosed!” The result of that exercise was the following:
|What “African” was called||9|
Today I obtained from the Hawaii State Library pages from the Hawaii Department of Health Annual Report Statistical Supplement for 1961 that show the birth tabulations by race of father. Here’s the table (click image to enlarge):
The racial values listed in the order presented in the table are:
- Part Hawaiian
- Puerto Rican
- Other race
- Not specified
Note that race codes “1,” “2” and “3” found on actual certificates correspond exactly with the first, second and third entries in the tabulation, and that code “9” for “African” on the Obama certificate is consistent with the 9th entry (“Other race”). Based on the information available, I think it highly likely that the race codes used to classify birth certificates by the Hawaii Department of Health in 1961 are 1-9 in the order that their tabulations were published in the preceding table. (“African” and “Negro” would fall into the same category.) For convenience, I’ll put it together:
This obscure bit of information is just one more indication of the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate.
1The federal tabulations only coded even-numbered certificates, and the final totals were multiplied by 2. President Obama’s certificate was odd-numbered, and so not actually coded by the federal government. (See Vital Statistics of the United States 1961 – Volume 1 – Natality pages 227 and 232.)