Bert Allen Roberts (1903-1949) – Date of Birth Proof

Roberts Research
Roberts Line
By Don Taylor

Today I examine the conflict in Bert Allen Roberts’ birthdate. Some documents and researchers report he was born on 20 Sep 1902, some on 20 Sep 1903, and others on 7 Sep 1903.

Ancestor #4


1922 – Marriage License – 20 Sep 1902[i]

The earliest birth record I’ve found regarding Bert’s birthdate is his marriage license. It clearly indicates that his birthdate is 20 Sep. This record appears to have been copied by a clerk into a set form, because the signatures of Bert, Essie, and the clerk appear to be of the same hand, with the same pen.

Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 – Bert Allen Roberts, Date of Birth (via

1941 – Birth Certificate – 7 Sep 1903[ii]

Bert’s Birth Certificate clearly indicates he was born on 7 Sep 1903. Generally, a birth certificate is the best document, however, although not identified as “delayed,” it was not reported until 8 Jul 1941. The information was provided by William Alonzo Scott (Uncle). William Alonzo was not Bert’s uncle, rather he was Bert’s great-uncle (Clora’s uncle).

1942 – Draft Registration – 7 Sep 1903[iii]

Bert completed his Draft Registration. As I understand it, a Birth Certificate was required to register for the draft. That would be the likely reason a “delayed” certificate was created. It is possible that Bert used the same date as his Birth Certificate to eliminate registration problems.

1949 – Death Certificate – 9-7-1903[iv]

The informant for Bert’s Death Certificate was his wife, “Mrs. Bert Roberts – Detroit, Mich” (Essie). She supplied 7 Sep 1903 as his birthdate also.

Census Records

Because there is a year difference between the documents Census Records might provide further insight into his birth year and consequently his birth date.

    • 1910 – Age 6 – Suggesting birth in 1903 (presuming a September birth).
    • 1920 – Age 16 – Suggesting birth in 1903.
    • 1930 – Age 26 – Suggesting birth in 1903.
    • 1940 – Age 36 – Suggesting birth in 1903.

So, all of the Census records are consistent with the birthdate of 7 September 1903 and not 1902 (20 September)


Bert Allen Roberts was born 7 September 1903. I have set that date as my preferred birth date.


[i] Indiana Marriage, 1811-2019, Family Search, Bert Allen Roberts – Essie Pansy Barnes – Marriage License. citing: Sullivan, Indiana, United States, Marriage Registration, Indiana Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis; FHL microfilm 004170594.
Source: Derivative, Transcribed by a clerk.
Clarity: Clear, Item 4, clearly readable, “When born September 20, 1902.”
Information: Primary, The document indicates Bert Allen Roberts provided the information.
Evidence: Direct, Date is clearly stated.

[ii] Illinois Births and Christenings, 1824-1940, Family Search, Bert Allen Roberts – Birth 7 Sep 1903. See Image 970 of 1538.
Source: Original, Information was entered by a clerk, however it is clear William signed it.
Clarity: Clear, Item 7, clearly readable, “Date of Birth Sept 7, 1903.”
Information: Secondary, Although the certificate indicates William was “the Attendant at this Birth,” I just don’t find that likely. That was a prefilled statement required by all who reported birth information
Evidence: Direct, Date is clearly stated.

[iii] U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Ancestry.Com, Bert Allen Roberts – Born 7 Sep 1903 – Registe3red 16 Feb 1942.
Source: Original, Information may have been entered by the registrar, but it is clear that Bert signed the card.
Clarity: Clear, Item 5, clearly readable, “Date of Birth Sept 7 1903.”
Information: Primary, The document indicates Bert Allen Roberts provided the information.

[iv] Indiana, U.S., Death Certificates, 1899-2011 (Indiana Archives & Records Administration), Ancestry, Bert Roberts – Death 1 May 1949. Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Death Certificates; Year: 1949; Roll: 06.
Source: Original.
Clarity: Clear, Item 8, clearly readable, “9-7-1903.”
Information: Secondary, the information was provided by his wife.
Evidence: Direct, Date is clearly stated.

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