24 July 2015
Any longtime readers know that Upfront with NGS rarely publishes Ancestry.com database updates (or those for FamilySearch, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, etc) as they are so frequent and publicized by so many.
That said, a recent notification about a “new” database peaked my curiosity when Lisa Louise Cooke blogged about it.
Because all too often, ancestors moved away from their place of birth and/or lived in a state where birth records may not have been required until as late as WWII – social security paperwork can be one place where parents are listed and that paperwork can be challenging to get one's hands on. This is compounded by the same individuals living in states where access to vital records (including death records) is often very restrictive.
The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) often helps us possibly determine where a person died if we can match a name and possible birth date (if provided). Though, that is all this database will tell us – no names of parents, no names of spouses, no birth place information, etc. We then always (and we want to anyway) then search for death certificates, obituaries, burial records and more to help fill in the missing details.
Well, the newest Ancestry.com database might just help fill in those gaps that much sooner -- U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007.
For example, here is my mother’s entries in both the SSDI database and the new Applications and Claims one.
SSDI – name, SS #, birth and death dates
Social Security Applications and Claims Index – name including middle name, SS#, gender, race, birth date & place, father & mother [emphasis is mine to show info not found in SSDI database]
I have heard that people are using it to find out unknown maiden names & parents of family members, Elizabeth Shown Mills found proof of a much argued about a middle name, etc. Remember that Social Security Applications were filled out by the individual giving the information – your ancestor! So, first-hand knowledge (combined with possibly some clerk errors). Since you can search on the father and mother fields, you might also be able to identify suspected siblings or children currently missing from your tree!
Though Ancestry.com is a subscription service, many state and local libraries and other repositories provided access to the database via Ancestry Library Edition. You often have to physically visit the facility to gain the access and it still means that you don’t have to be a subscriber.
Now that you’ve taken a look – did you either learn something new or confirm something suspected?
Editor’s Note: Some past Upfront with NGS posts on the SSDI are Important Changes to Social Security Death Index (2011), Social Security Administration extends FOIA restriction to 100 years (2011), The Legal Genealogist & SSDI Hearings: OUCH! (2012) & Commemorate 4th of July by Signing the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights -- We Need Your Support! (2015)
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