The series consists of copies of British Columbia birth registrations created by the Vital Statistics Agency. The records are on microfilm and cover the period 1854 to 1903. An index is available online on the BC Archives web site and on microfiche (GR-3103). In many cases, a digitized copy of the registration record is attached to the online index record.
Birth registrations consist of completed statements regarding births in British Columbia submitted to District Registrars and registered by the Director of Vital Statistics. The statements contain: date of birth, place of birth, sex of child, name of child, name and surname of father, name and maiden name of mother, residence and rank or profession of father, name of person who delivered the child (accoucheur), reason father did not report the birth if the report was made by another person, date of registration and registration number. If the child was originally registered without a name, or if the name was changed, the registration form is accompanied by a certificate, submitted by the person who baptized the infant and signed by the parents or guardian, or by some other document verifying the name. The only persons excluded from registration under the 1872 Act were Chinese and Aboriginals (referred to in the legislation and registered as Indians). This was changed by an amendment in 1897 (SBC 1897, c. 33, s. 3) which stated that the Act would apply to all races including all Aboriginals, Chinese and Japanese. However, the Act was amended in 1899 (SBC 1899, c. 8, s. 3) to once again exclude Aboriginals from provincial registration. This continued until the Act was amended again in 1916 (SBC 1916, c. 73, s. 3.2) to authorize the registration of Aboriginals, which began in 1917 with Indian Agents submitting registrations monthly.
There are usually two numbers stamped on the registration form. In the upper right-hand corner is a red sequential number which is the record number of the registration. At the centre top is the official registration number in black that looks like this (for example) 64-09-016729. The first part is the year of birth; the second part is the code for British Columbia; the third part is the finding number consisting of six digits. The first three digits of the six-digit finding number show the original volume which the registration was in; the last three are the last three digits of the record number. Since there are always fewer than 1000 registrations in a volume, users should look for the last three digits in the official registration number within the correct volume. Although the registrations have been resorted for microfilming, they are still in a numerical sequence by year, volume and number.
In the early years, birth registrations were gathered and bound in volumes by geographic location for one or more birth registration years. The registrations within each volume were sorted alphabetically by surname, sometimes grouped by smaller localities within the geographic location. Volumes were numbered sequentially and later yet sequential registration numbers were assigned to each registration within a volume. For large municipalities, birth registrations were bound in volumes by registration year. Often, there were multiple volumes for each year, organized and bound through a combination of chronology and alphabetization by surname. In these years, it was not unusual for births to be registered some time, even many years, after the event. These "delayed" registrations were either recorded in the same volume as births of that year, or kept in separate "delayed" registration series. The registration of stillbirths also varied over these years, and were either registered as a birth or a death, or sometimes both. Due to the complex way that birth registrations were gathered and bound historically and the way that delayed registrations have been processed, it was necessary to sort them for microfilming in order of birth year instead of registration year. This has been done to enable the release of open birth registrations. BCVSA has sorted pre-1919 births by year of birth, and volume number and registration number within each birth year. As a result, when viewed in microfilmed sequence, there appear to be gaps in volume and registration numbers within each year. The "missing" volumes and registration numbers are for births that occurred in years earlier than the registration year. Although the sorted birth registrations have been microfilmed in several different sequences, the task of finding a specific registration on the microfilm is very simple since the birth index points to the correct microfilm reel and registration number.
Indian registrations were filmed separately from non-Indian registrations to facilitate distribution of those reels to interested groups. Non-Indian birth registrations: Birth events from 1854 have been filmed sequentially in order of year, and volume number and registration number within the year. Birth events from 1854 to 1897 have been filmed together as a group for release in 1998. Events from 1898 have been filmed so as to allow for annual release in 1999 and beyond. Delayed registrations of non-Indian births: Birth events from 1869 have been filmed sequentially in order of year, and volume number and registration number within the year. Birth events from 1869 to 1897 have been filmed together as a group for release in 1998. Events from 1898 have been filmed at the end of the non-Indian birth registrations for those years so as to allow for annual release in 1999 and beyond. Indian birth registrations: Birth events from 1868 have been filmed sequentially in order of year, and volume number and registration number within the year.
If a birth registration is found in the index but is shown as "not filmed" on the reel, or the reel number given has not yet been released, the registration is probably a delayed registration, i.e. it was filed in a volume with later registrations which are less than 100 years old. Copies of these registrations can be obtained from the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency.