Genealogy: Researching the Social Security Death Index

Social Secuirty CardBy Barry J. Ewell

The Social Security Act (Act of August 14, 1935) [H. R. 7260] was created as an attempt to limit what was seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens on widows and fatherless children. By signing this act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly. The Act provided benefits to retirees and the unemployed, and a lump-sum benefit at death.

Search the Social Security Death Index
You might want to start by checking out the Social Security Death Index which is available online from a variety of commercial services (usually the search is free). The Death Index contains a listing of persons who had a Social Security number, who are deceased, and whose death was reported to the Social Security Administration. (The information in the Death Index for people who died prior to 1962 is sketchy since SSA’s death information was not automated before that date. Death information for persons who died before 1962 is generally only in the Death Index if the death was actually reported to SSA after 1962, even though the death occurred prior to that year.) Continue reading

Genealogy: 1930 U.S. Census example, John I. Stewart 1850-1930

1930 Census ExampleBy Barry J. Ewell
This article is part of a series that I have developed to help you learn about the wealth of information you can research about each of your ancestors from the U.S. Federal Census.  We will follow John Isaac Stewart from the 1850 to 1930 Census:

  • In 1850 census, John does not appear (born within a few months after census) but we are able to see first view of the James M. Stewart Family
  • In 1860-1870 censuses, John is seen in the household of James M. Stewart
  • In 1880 census, John is shown with the marriage to Panola Owen, daughter of Thomas Allen Own
  • In1880-1920 censuses, John is shown with the growth and decline of his family
  • In 1930 censuses, Panola Owen Stewart is by herself after the death of John between the 1920-1930

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Genealogy: Four-step research strategy for pre-1850 U.S. Federal census

Stepping stonesBy Barry J. Ewell
The 1790 to pre-1850 U.S. Federal and states censuses do contain less information than those from 1850-1940.  You are only provided the name of the head of household and the remainder of the persons are grouped by race/sex/age category.  Each census during this time period does increase in information provided, for example, 1830/1840 census you are given the place of birth, race (white/colored), whether the person is naturalized born citizen and military service in the 1840 census.  You can effectively use the data to build a household profile and search other records to expand you knowledge. Continue reading

Genealogy: World War I 1917-1919, Researching Draft Registration cards

WWI SoldiersBy Barry J. Ewell
The United States instituted a draft that included 24 million men between the ages of 18 and 45.  There were three registration periods which had requested slightly different information:

  • Version 1: June 5, 1917 for all men 21-31
  • Version 2: June 5, 1918 all men who turned 21 since last draft
  • Version 3: September 12, 1918 for all men 18-45

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Genealogy: Census Records—There is more than population schedules

Census Records—There is more than population schedulesBy Barry J. Ewell

Be aware that in addition to population schedules, there were other schedules taken usually at the same time. There are resources online and in print that provide more detail on these schedules and how to use them in genealogy research. These other schedules include the following:

  • Mortality Schedule: conducted from 1850 to 1885, provides information about persons who died during the twelve months prior to the census. Continue reading

Genealogy: Availability of pre-1850 U.S. Federal and state census records

Pre-1850 USBy Barry J. Ewell
In this article you will find an overview of the type of information you will find in the censuses and which U.S. Federal and state census records exist and are available for research.

Over the years as a genealogist, I have spent too much time looking for information about my ancestors in a record that did not exist.  It never entered my mind to even ask the question, “What records existed during the time my ancestor lived in this location?” One of my earliest assumptions was that census records existed for every person for the time period in which they lived in the United States. And it wasn’t until I asked a resource librarian, why am I not finding census records for Virgina in 1790-1800, that I learned that the records were completely lost during the war of 1812.  After further discussion, I learned about Virginia state censuses that were available from the late 1700’s and that the 1790 census was reconstructed using census substitute records. Continue reading

Genealogy: Male nicknames and their associated birth name

NicknamesBy Barry J. Ewell
I have prepared four lists that focus on associating nicknames with proper names to assist in genealogy research.  The lists include hundreds of names from the last 200 years.  The lists are not inclusive, but will give you a good start to decipher names that were given to your ancestors by their family, friends and associates.  The lists are

  1. Female nicknames and their associated birth name. This lists the female nickname first followed by the common female name associated with the nickname.
  2. Male nicknames and their associated birth name. This lists the male nickname first and followed by the common names associated with the nickname.
  3. Female birth names and their associated nicknames. This lists the more common birth female name first and provides you possible nicknames that have been associated with the name.
  4. Male birth names and their associated nicknames. This lists the more common male birth name first and provides you possible nicknames that have been associated with the name.

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