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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE,
BUREAU OF THE CENSUS,
Washington, D. C., April 6, 1916. SIR:
I transmit herewith, by the courtesy of the Secretary General of the Second Pan American Scientific Congress, for printing in pamphlet form, a paper entitled “The Federal Registration Service of the United States: Its Development, Problems, and Defects,” by Cressy L. Wilbur, M. D., who was chief statistician for vital statistics of the United States Bureau of the Census from 1906 to 1914, and is at present Director of Vital Statistics, New York State Department of Health, Albany. To Dr. Wilbur, more than to any other person, credit is due for the progress made in vital statistics legislation during the past fifteen years. This paper was prepared at my request for presentation at the Second Pan American Scientific Congress, held in Washington, December 27, 1915, to January 8, 1916.
Sam. or. Rrugino
Director of the Census.
To Hon. WILLIAM C. REDFIELD,
Secretary of Commerce.
THE FEDERAL REGISTRATION SERVICE OF THE UNITED
INTRODUCTION. The Federal service of the United States in connection with the registration of vital statistics is the Bureau of the Census. Its work relates entirely at present to the collection of statistics of deaths by means of state registration services, supplemented by municipal returns from certain cities in states which do not yet possess satisfactory state laws. Attempts have been made for the regular collection of births, but the birth registration area is not yet organized." Two special reports on marriage and divorce, each covering a period of 20 years, have been made, but returns of marriages and divorces are not regularly collected by the Government. Returns of mortality and sickness are also made for sanitary purposes to the United States Public Health Service, and that bureau has aided in the efforts made for better registration and endeavored especially to promote the adoption of laws for the collection of morbidity statistics. The Children's Bureau of the Department of Labor also, since its organization, has taken an active part in urging the adoption and more thorough enforcement of birth registration laws. To this time, however, the principal work in this connection has devolved upon the Census, and the long series of reports upon mortality statistics and other publications devoted to the propaganda for better vital statistics and the adoption of uniform and comparable methods of collection and presentation of data give the results of the efforts which have been made to perform this duty.
The present paper could not have been prepared without the aid of the Bureau of the Census. I desire to acknowledge my obligation to the Director, Hon. Sam. L. Rogers, for the opportunity, and to Mr. Richard C. Lappin, my successor as chief statistician for vital statistics, for the valuable tables and statements supplied.
RELATION OF THE CENSUS TO VITAL STATISTICS.
Regular decennial censuses of population have been taken in the United States from the First Census (1790) to the Thirteenth Census (1910). They are provided for by the Constitution (Art. I, sec. 2) as a necessary means of ascertaining the number of inhabitants for the
1 The Director of the Census has recently inaugurated the collection annually of birth statistics within an area comprising the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota, and the District of Columbia. This area, although it represents barely 10 per cent of the territorial extent of continental United States, has a population of approximately 31,150,000, or 31 per cent of the total for the country. The statistics will cover the calendar year 1915.