Monday, September 6, 2010

History from Things

I have not yet had the opportunity to see my object in person, but I’m looking forward to doing so on September 13. That said, much of what I’ll write about Amy’s birth certificate in this post will be conjecture. Out of respect for the amount of personal data on a birth certificate, I’ve decided not to post a picture of the document here.

As I mentioned, I have not had a firsthand experience of Amy’s birth certificate, but from the photograph I’ve seen, the record appears to have been printed on a fairly standard sheet of paper measuring about eight-and-a-half by eleven inches in my estimation. However, there isn’t anything to provide a frame of reference in the image I received, so the page could be smaller or larger than that size. This would make its weight fairly negligible. The document is unadorned save for an official stamp. The text is typewritten, though a few fields were filled in by hand. The object dates from 1947, when paper was a mass-produced, inexpensive material. Every birth warranted a birth certificate, so the government would have had plenty of the forms on hand. Therefore, the cost in making the object was negligible. Additionally, the form wouldn’t have cost anything monetary to receive.

The document is written in German, a language in which I am not fluent, unfortunately. Also, the picture I received is blurry, so the text is illegible despite my lack of prowess with the German. However, the image makes very clear that the birth certificate has been handled often. The document is dog-eared and beginning to tear along the creases as though it has been folded and unfolded many times. Bits of the edges are missing. Obviously, this piece of paper has meant a lot to its owner and symbolizes more than a mere demographical document.

1 comment:

  1. If you need any help with translation, I would be willing to help as much as I can (even post-war German handwriting is difficult to read sometimes).