Albert W Hodges amended birth record, 17 Mar 1937

On a research trip to Lynn MA back in 2007, we stopped at city hall to get a copy of Albert’s birth certificate.  We knew what it would say, we knew his parents and birthday, so this was just a formality. 

Rather than getting  just a photo copy of the original entry at the city clerk’s office which I should have known to asked for, the clerk got the information and printed out a nice certified copy.  We found that the name was Albert Warren Hodges (no surprise) with a birth date of 4 December 1902 (no surprise).  The record listed Josie’s maiden name as Newell, rather listing Smith.  The surprise was that the birth certificate was amended March 17, 1937. 

Amended?  Why?  From what? 

When www.FamilySearch.org released a collection of Massachusetts birth records, I searched for the original image for Albert.  I discovered that he had originally been named Frank Albert Hodges – the date and parents matched, so I know it was the correct birth record.  If you remember back to the bio on Albert’s brother Roland, I mentioned that all of Josie’s sons had gone by their middle name, although previous to this discovery, I thought Albert was an exception to that.  Now I know he was not.

I think that he went by his middle name, Albert, probably immediately.  He was going by “Albert W”  Hodges by the time of the 1910 census. Josie’s next son Frank Chester “Chet” was born July 1904, and it doesn’t seem likely that she would have two sons, Frank Albert and Frank Chester.  So the name change probably occurred before Chet was born.  But why?

Josie was raised by her uncle, Albert Warren Smith.  I believe that “Frank Albert” was named for his father Frank and grandfather Albert.  Albert Smith died in August 1905, of stomach cancer, and was probably ill for some time. I believe that Josie changed her first son’s name from Frank Albert to Albert Warren, in honor of the father-figure in her life.

So why was Albert’s birth record not amended until 1937?   The Social Security Act was passed in 1937, and taxes started to be withheld in 1937.  I suspect that Albert needed a birth certificate that matched the name he had been using so that he could apply for a social security number, pay into the system, and later collect from it.  Just a guess – I’m open to other suggestions.

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1 Comment

  1. Evelyn Laber said,

    March 22, 2011 at 20:12

    It all sounds pretty reasonable to me. I don’t recall him ever mentioning the situation to the family.


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