Social Security Death Index Search Discontinued by RootsWeb

by Laurie Castillo, Inc., the parent entity for Roots-Web, Ancestry, and Fold3 [formerly Foot-note], recently came to the decision to remove the Social Security Death Index database search. The RootsWeb SSDI search had, for years, been the most preferred in the industry. No other SSDI search database was more frequently updated or more current. No other SSDI search engine was more robust and consistently effective. No other SSDI search window had more options or more flexibility with the options. RootsWeb added the ability to add notes or “Postems” to an entry, allowing researchers to share additional information. Rootsweb was the first to add a clickable link to instantly print a letter to the SS Administration in Washington, DC, for the purpose of ordering the SS5, the original Social Security Application. This database will be sorely missed. It was the SSDI of choice, most often recommended by serious researchers.

Then why remove it from RootsWeb?
When you go to you will find the following explanation:
Due to sensitivities around the information in this data-base, the Social Security Death Index collection is not available on our free Rootsweb service but is accessible to search on Visit the Social Security Death Index page to be directly connected to this collection.

When you click on the SSDI link given, it takes you to the SSDI page. The search there has been filtered and your search results may or may not contain the actual Social Security Number or SSN. On the SSDI page see under the heading About the Social Security Death Index:

Why can’t I see the Social Security Number?
If the Social Security Number is not visible on the record index it is because does not provide this number in the Social Security Death Index for any person that has passed away within the past 10 years.

What brought this on?
In order to be claimed as a tax deduction, a child must have a Social Security Number. The SSN can be applied for at the same time as the birth certificate. The SS Card then simply arrives in the mail. Since this is the easiest way to obtain an SSN, parents often take advantage of the opportunity. Thus many new babies already have an SSN. An SSDI entry for a child with an SSN who died shortly after birth would be posted in the same timely manner as would that for a deceased
adult. Following the filing of their next set of tax returns, numerous bereaved parents have subsequently received noti-fication that someone had already filed a claim using the Social Security number for their deceased child. These Social Security Numbers could have easily been harvested from the SSDI entries for these children. There are other potential misuses for this information. Thus, Inc., made a decision that impacts all who do U.S. research.

Why does, Inc., still have SSDI available on and Fold3??
The SSDI is a popular and useful database genealogically. The and Fold3 versions are “filtered” versions which hopefully eliminate some of the abuses.
Where can I go for a free SSDI search now? What information is included in the search results at each of these sites?
FOLD3 “Completely Free and Updated Weekly”
Registration/ Login: not re-quired
Search Results: Birth and Death dates, place of last resi-dence and, at most, the last four digits of the SSN.
How Current: “Updated Weekly” according to the banner on the search page.

Registration/ Login: not required
Search Results: Birth and Death dates, place of issuance, last residence [if contained in original record], full SSN, esti-mated age at death.
How Current: As of 10 Jan 2012 it contains 90,732,247 records. Database was last up-dated 5 Nov 2011.

AMERICAN ANCESTORS at www.AmericanAncestors.Org [From New England Historic Genealogical Society]
Free SSDI search is under the category of Vital Records on the Advanced Search or use the link
Registration/Login: Not required
Search Results: Birth and Death information, State Issued, Last Residence Location, Payment location, and full SSN
How Current: *[Not certain how of-ten this one is updated. My great-uncle who died in July 2011 does not show up on this one, but does on others.]


Search for name and click on SSDI results or use the GenealogyBank SSDI Link
Registration/Login: You search and possible hits are displayed. If you click on one of them a box appears with the instructions, “Please register to view the Social Secu-rity Death Index for FREE!” All you need to list is a first name and an email address. The promise is given that they “will never sell or rent your email address to anyone.”
Search Results: Birth and Death dates, State of issuance. Not all entries in any version of the SSDI contain the last known residence. In this database, if the last known resi-dence is listed, the city, county, state, and zip code are given along with the latitude and longitude! Also given is the estimated age at death right down to years, months and days. There is an information line entitled “Confirmation” and for my great-uncle Warren it says “Proven.” They must have his death certificate on file. No part of the So-cial Security Number is given.
How Current? On 11 January 2012, I found entries as recent as 5 Jan 2012. Wow!

What if I need to order the original Social Security ap-plication form, known as the SS5?
Some of these web searches no longer provide the SSN or the complete SSN.

How will that impact my ability to order the nec-essary record?
Go to the Ancestry Social Security Death Index page and scroll down to the article “About the Social Security Death Index.” At the bottom of the page there is a link for Fre-quently Asked Questions or FAQs about the SSDI.

When you get to the FAQ list, click on the question in the list “How can I get a copy of the original records?”
If you have the Social Security Number the charge is $27. Remember that not everyone who had a SSN is on the SSDI. Other records that might contain the SSN include: tax papers, death certificate, employment records, voter registration records, funeral home records, education re-cords, Social Security Card, and other personal papers.

If you still cannot locate the number, for $29 you may order an “SSN search” from the Social Security Admini-stration. Provide as much information as you can about the birth date, place, and parents of the person in question. Remember you can only order information about a de-ceased person so it would be well to supply any proof of death you may have available.

For more information see the online form SSA-711, Request for Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record. While it is NOT necessary to use this form to make a re-quest, it does supply additional helpful information about Social Security records and provide the necessary mailing addresses.

We are lucky to still have the opportunity to use these wonderful Social Security Records.

NOTE: There has been much talk about the removal of the SSDI from Rootsweb over the last month. For more
information you may want to view two articles which discuss this event.

German Workshop Offered
Salt Lake City—Genealogists and family history enthusiasts looking for help with German research will be interested in a free workshop being held on Saturday, 28 January 2012 in the Family History Library.
“German Research Workshop” 9:00 a.m. to 12:00
 Beginning to Intermediate Skills
 Requires pre-registration. Please be sure to register early as the class size is limited to 63.
 Prior to the workshop, please watch the following two Ger-man Online classes at—Learn—Germany:
• Germany Beginning Research Series Lesson 1: Getting Started
• Germany Beginning Research Series Lesson 2: Learn About Historical Background.
 This workshop will involve classroom instruction, group discussions, and will provide a workbook at no cost to each participant.
 This workshop was taught at the FGS Conference in 2011.
To view the class schedule online, go to The workshop will be held in the Main Floor classroom of the Family History Library, located west of Temple Square on West Temple between North Temple and South Temple streets in downtown Salt Lake City. On Saturdays, parking is free to library patrons and is located behind the Church History Museum.

To register for free classes, send an email to or call 801-240-4950.
(News Release, 30 December 2011)

Find Your Ancestor in U.S. Naturalization Records

By Sherry Stevens, professional genealogist

If you’re looking for your ancestor’s birthplace, arrival port, or date of arrival, Naturalization papers may be the answer.
To find your ancestor’s naturalization record, it’s easiest to start with the U.S. census. The1900-1930 census records list whether a person was naturalized. The exact year of their naturalization is even listed in the 1920 Census. From these census records, you can narrow down the date and place where your ancestor probably filed his or her naturalization papers.

Before filing for naturalization, a person was described in the censuses as an “Alien”, and you will see the word “Al” in the census column pertaining to citizenship. Generally, after two years of U.S residency, a person was then eligible to apply for citizenship. Exceptions were made for a person who entered the country as a minor, those with honorable military discharges, and those married to a citizen.
Three steps were involved with the Naturalization process:

1. The Declaration of Intent (also called "First Papers")
To start the naturalization process, the applicant for US citizenship declared their intent to become a citizen and renounced their allegiance to a foreign government. This Declaration of Intent contains the most genealogical information of all the naturalization documents. The important date to remember about naturalization papers is 27 September 1906. Why is that date important? Because before that date, the application form simply asked for the immigrant’s name, country of birth or allegiance (but not the town), and the date of the application. Very few applications prior to this date will list the exact birthplace, arrival port, and date of arrival in the U.S. But after 27 September 1906, the form included the place of birth, the port, and the date of arrival.

After the Declaration of Intent was filed, you will see in the census the notation of “Pa” for “Papers”, in the column regarding citizenship.

2. The Naturalization Petition
After three more years, the applicant was then free to file his petition, or formal application for US citizenship. The content of the petition varied, but it usually listed the applicant’s age, how long they had resided in the U.S., their current address, and their country of origin.

3. The Record of Naturalization
The Record of Naturalization is the document actually granting US citizenship. It is sometimes called the Certificate of Naturalization. It generally contains very little genealogical information. After a person was granted citizenship, you will see the letters “Na” in the census citizenship column, meaning “Naturalized”.

Where to find Naturalization records

Before 27 September 1906, an immigrant could file for naturalization in any court in the U.S., be it county, state, district, or national. All records were retained at the original court. However, applications were usually filed at the county level. You will find links to some of these records by state if you scroll to the bottom of this web page:

After 27 September 1906, a copy was required to be sent to the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) in Washington, D.C. This means you do not need to search various courts to find the records. You simply request a search from the CIS.

The search is a two-step process. First, you must find the file number. You can have CIS perform this search for a fee, or you can search for it yourself online at, on microfilm from the Family History Library, or by contacting the county courthouse. Once the file number is found, the second step is ordering a search for copies of the actual documents. Both types of CIS search requests are made on their website at

Preparing for Your Library Research Trip

Preparing for Your Library Research Trip

Preparing for any library visit is just as important as the research that is done there. Adequate preparation will ensure that researchers make the most of their research time and of the facility’s sources. There are several things genealogists can do to fully prepare for a library trip.

Learn about the library’s collection before you arrive.
Many libraries have made their catalog available via the Internet, either in a Web-based format or through the use of Telnet. Searching the library’s card catalog before you go can allow you to have a listing of books, bibliographic information, and call numbers with you when you enter the door. And there’s no fighting over catalog drawers or terminal space.

If you cannot remotely access the card catalog, write to the facility and see if any research guides or pamphlets are available. Even a general summary will provide some direction. A Web page for the library may also provide similar information. Is there an Internet listserve for the county or state in which the library is located? Posting a question to an appropriate listserve about the library may allow you to learn more about its collection and research policies from users of the facility. This is also a great way to learn things that pamphlets and Web sites don’t tell you.

Read full article here.