Newspapers’ birth announcements: So what?

By Jerome R. Corsi


Contrary to the claims of critics of citizens who demand Barack Obama produce evidence of his presidential eligibility, newspaper birth announcements in Hawaiian newspapers in 1961 did not necessarily indicate a baby was born in the state.

As WND reported, Glenn Beck ridiculed the so-called birther movement on his nationally syndicated radio show Monday, pointing to identical birth announcements published in the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as evidence Obama was born in Hawaii and, therefore, is a natural-born citizen as required by the Constitution.

Beck, and two colleagues, mocked “birthers” for purportedly believing a wild conspiracy in which Obama’s parents, knowing he would someday be president, “preemptively” collaborated with two separate newspapers to publish phony announcements stating he was born in Hawaii.

But the birth announcements offer no proof of citizenship, because they might reflect nothing more than information a family filed with the Hawaii Department of Health to obtain a state Certification of Live Birth for a baby born outside Hawaii. Any parent presumably would see the benefit of securing American citizenship for their child.

Further, the information in the two newspapers would be identical not only because the papers drew from the same source but because they had an agreement to share classified advertising.

How Hawaiian papers published announcements

WND discovered the following in previous discussions with the two Honolulu newspapers:

  • Neither newspaper had an editor to vet birth announcements;
  • Neither newspaper independently checked the truthfulness or accuracy of birth announcement information derived from Hawaii Department of Health vital statistics records;
  • Both newspapers merely published birth announcements, as received, from information published in Hawaii’s Department of Health vital statistics announcements.
  • Hawaiian hospitals did not report to newspapers any birth information;
  • Hawaiian Certifications of Live Birth do not typically list the hospital of birth or attending physician;
  • Errors and misstatements in birth announcements published in the two Hawaiian newspapers have been documented, stemming from incorrect information recorded by the Hawaiian Department of Health.

The Advertiser and Star-Bulletin began collaborating on reporting birth announcements in 1961. On June 1, 1962, they signed a Formal Letter of Agreement to create the Hawaiian News Agency to jointly publish both papers, an agreement that remains in place even today.

A comparison of the Obama birth announcement in the two newspapers shows they are identical in every detail, including the order of other announcements preceding and following the Obama listing.

Birth announcements from the Star-Bulletin (left) and Honolulu Advertiser (right), with Barack Obama’s announcement marked

Why COLB does not prove Hawaiian birth

The publication of the Obama birth announcements in 1961 suggests the Hawaii Department of Health issued a Certification of Live Birth, or COLB, for Barack Obama. But that alone is not proof he was born in Hawaii.

In 1961, Hawaiian law specifically allowed “an adult or the legal parents of a minor child” to apply to the health department and, upon unspecified proof, be given a birth document in the form of a Certification of Live Birth.

The only requirement stated in Hawaiian law is “that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child.”

So, even the listing of an address on a COLB or in a newspaper birth announcement is no proof the baby was born in Hawaii.

Under Hawaiian law, a family wishing to register the birth of a baby born outside Hawaii can list a family residence in Hawaii as the birth address, even if the mother was residing outside Hawaii at the time the baby was born.

Hawaii refuses to authenticate

WND previously reported the Hawaii Department of Health refused to authenticate either of the two versions of Obama’s short-form Certification of Live Birth posted online – the image produced by the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and the images released by

WND also reported that until recently, even the Hawaii state government refused to accept a short-form COLB as proof of a Hawaiian birth required for eligibility in state programs. The Hawaiian Home Lands program, for example, required a “long-form birth certificate” filled out in the hospital with details such as the name of the hospital and the attending physician.

If a short-form COLB was not good enough for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, submitting a newspaper-printed birth announcement as proof of a Hawaiian birth would have been rejected immediately.

Moreover, WND has reported a discrepancy in reports of where Obama was born. The myth-busting website – along with several news agencies and Obama-related blogs – have stated he was born in Queens Medical Center in Honolulu while Obama has claimed he was born in the city’s Kapi’olani Medical Center.

After WND’s report of the descrepancy, sources such as the United Press International and scrubbed their websites to eliminate any reference to Queens Medical Center, without explaining the move.

Obama’s parents didn’t live at listed address

The birth address listed on the Certification of Live Birth produced by the 2008 Obama presidential campaign is evidence of the type of error that can occur because of Hawaiian laws and the procedures for placing birth announcements in newspapers.

Moreover, the repeat of the address error in the Obama newspaper birth announcements is further evidence the papers simply published the information they were given by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Barack Obama Sr. and Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama’s parents, apparently did not live together as husband and wife at 6085 Kalanianaole Highway in Honolulu, the address listed in the announcement.

As WND reported, that address belonged to Ann Dunham’s parents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham.

Moreover, Obama’s parents lived apart, at two different addresses, after their marriage, with Ann Dunham evidently remaining in the rented house at 6085 Kalanianaole Highway after she was married.

Barack Obama Sr. lived alone in an 11th Avenue address, closer to the university. Ann Dunham left Hawaii with her newborn son just two weeks after the birth.

Why Barack Obama Sr. did not establish a residence with his wife and son in Hawaii is unknown, but WND can find no listing in the Polk directories for 1961-1962 that document Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr. ever lived at the same address.

A search of that edition of the directory indicates 6085 Kalanianaole Highway was being rented by the grandparents. Madelyn L. Dunham is listed as a loan interviewer and escrow agent at the Bank of Hawaii and Stanley A. Dunham is listed as a manager with Pratt Furniture.

Polk listing for Stanley and Madelyn Dunham

In a separate listing, Obama’s mother is identified as a student living at the 6085 Kalanianaole Highway address; Barack H. Obama, her husband, is listed as a student living at a separate address, closer to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Polk listing for Ann Obama and Barack Obama Sr.

WND has separately documented that Ann Dunham was enrolled in extension classes at the University of Washington in Seattle 15 days after Barack Obama Jr. was born.

The Polk directory for Seattle in 1961-1962 listed the residence for “Mrs. Anna Obama,” a student, at 516 13th Ave. E, apartment 2.

Polk Directory listing

WND has also documented Obama’s mother resettled in Seattle and did not return to Hawaii until after Barack Obama Sr. left the state to begin his studies at Harvard in September 1962.