[Illegitimate births in selected poviats of Northern Mazowsze in the period of the second Republic of Poland].Med Nowozytna. 2007; 14(1-2):137-66.MN
The main subject of my analysis were dublicates of birth certificates from Registered Offices in six poviats of Northern Mazowsze in the period of the second Republic of Poland. Sixty two thousand three hundred and ninety three Roman Catholic, Jewish and Protestant religion birth certificates from the years 1918-1939 were analysed. Among those births two thousand four hundred and fifty were illegitimate, which is 3.93% of all births. It is worth underlining that the number of illegitimate births on the analysed area was lower than in other regions of the country in the same period. The highest number of illegitimate births was recorded in 1936, the lowest in 1918. If it comes to poviats, poviat "pułtuski" has the greatest percentage share in the whole number of illegitimate births. The lowest number of illegitimate births was recorded in poviat "przasnyski". The tragedy of an illegitimate child, as press of that time emphasized, started with the case of surname and defining the nature of the birth itself, due to the fact that in our law there was not defined any form of marital status certificate allowing a person to conceal or cover the illegitimate origin. Usually, the fact of giving birth to a child from a matrimony reported the father and in the certificate was written "the child born by his legitimate spouse...". The fact of absence of the father at the time of drawing the birth certificate was also marked and the reasons of the absence were given, e. g. "father at war with Bolsheviks" or "father abroad". However, in the case of an illegitimate child the record was "child born by her, X year old unmarried girl, father unknown" or "by her X year old girl and unknown father". In some certificates at a later date the father's name was added but without his surname. The fact of giving birth to an illegitimate child among Roman Catholics and Protestants was reported usually by the child's mother, her relatives or other sometimes completely strange people. Due to Stanisława Orzechowska as many as 77% of illegitimate children's fathers did not want to bear the consequences of their actions and secure the child's financial maintenance. From my research appears that this regularity applies only to fathers of Roman Catholic and Protestant religion. Whereas, among illegitimate children of Jewish religion there were only several cases in which the father remained unknown or the child had not been legitimized by the biological father. Among the representatives of the Jewish religion the fact of giving birth to an illegitimate child was usually registered by the child's father, who as was written in the certificate: "accepted the child as his and declared he is the father". About the illegitimate child's mother it was written: "born by illegitimate wife" or "unlawful spouse" or "unmarried X years old living with the child's father", "child born by mother X and father Y". We can even discover that at drawing the illegitimate children's certificates euphemisms were commonly used. While among Catholics phase: "by her unmarried" had a pejorative meaning. Among Jews a common practise was recording by the father at the Registry Office even several children born in different years from an illegitimate relationship with only one woman. Then, it was marked that "the delay was caused by family reasons" or "father's departure to America". It was occasionally written that "the reason of late report was father's negligence". Whereas, in situation of a delay in drawing the illegitimate child's certificate among Roman Catholics it was usually marked that: "the delay is caused by mother's negligence" or "certificate delayed because of her appearing", so the father was never blamed. While among Jews father felt responsible for his children and their mother. In the press was repeatedly emphasized that the illegitimate mothers were usually young, helpless maidens, not depraved born losers, which came to a big city from the country in the pursuit of a job. While, from the gathered material appears that the illegitimate mothers were only occasionally sixteen or seventeen years old. In majority they were from twenty four to twenty eight years old. Mamy times in birth certificates the mother's origin was defined: "workwoman's daughter", "worker's daughter", "farmer's daughter". Illegitimate mothers were above all workwoman or workers. In Płońsk, on the other hand, maiden. It is probable, that it was for the nearness of Warsaw. Girls from the provinces were coming to the capital city in the pursuit of the job of a maiden. When they got pregnant they got back to their homeland. Other commonly found illegitimate mothers' occupations were: tailoring, hosiery and street-trade. Illegitimate children's birth certificates do not give any information about the fathers. In a situation of drawing a birth certificate for children from a matrimony, the father's occupation or social position was commonly defined: "farm worker", "workman", "trader", "craftsman". Birth certifcates give also information about the abandoned children. In the discussed period there were not many abandonments on this particular territory. Among all analysed certificates only four included information about children that had been abandoned, e. g. "the child found in a roadsite ditch without any sign or a guideline to identify the religion or the date of birth". Social transformations that took place in the period of the second Republic of Poland were closely connected with economic development. The economic situation has its influence on the increasing or decreasing number of births in various years. The cultural stucture of society was in close relation with education. National and religious differences played its great role too. However, it is difficult to give an ambigous answer to the question what factors had the most important influence on the number of illegitimate births in analysed poviats in the period between the two World Wars. Not every change that takes place in society can be analysed with a quantitative method due to the fact that not everything can be measured.