Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Your Mom or Dad's (Grandma, Grandpa's) Social Security Application as a Family History Resource


First, a confession.  Today's post at FreeGenealogyTools is about a resource that isn't actually free.  Mea culpa!  But it doesn't cost much, and it's so @*$&#! useful, that it's worth knowing about and maybe even worth forking out some cash.

At one time or another, just about everyone living in the US -- and many who have passed on -- have filled out an application for a Social Security number.

Two generations ago, these were largely being filled out by adults.  As the Social Security system matured, parents began filling them out for their children as well.  But regardless, an application was filed for just about everyone.

These can be family history goldmines.  Though the application has changed over the years, the earlier ones contained details such as:
  • Full name
  • Maiden name (where applicable, of course)
  • Complete address
  • Current employer
  • Date of employment
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Father's full name
  • Mother's full name and maiden name
  • Race

The form required a signature, which is also part of the application record.

Like I said, a real genealogy goldmine.

You can get a copy of the original application form directly from Social Security.  There is a modest fee, which varies depending on the nature of your request.  A family member who is living will have to make the request themselves, but if they've passed on, then you can request a copy.

Worth the effort...worth the cost.


Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools.

And don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive.com. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

4 comments :

Debbie said...

I actually find this is really useful when trying to pin point a family line or dates. And to get into DAR or others you need the documents to PROVE you family line...so forking over the cash(as you put it) is just feeding the passion of your genealogy hunger!

ARE U HUNGERY ? then feed me!

Susan Alexander Llauget said...

The article didn't say whether you need the person's Social Security number to find this information.

David said...

Susan...it helps to have the SSN, as this is the easiest identifier for retrieving the original application. However, it's not absolutely necessary to have it. The article I linked to explains the procedures in more detail.

Happy new year!

Sue said...

One thing to bear in mind is that the requirement to get a social security number was only for those who were employed or who had taxable assets until 1986. Prior to that, a family where only one parent was employed would report their tax return under the employed person's number. Spouses and children were listed by name on the tax return when being claimed as dependents. In 1986 children over the age of 5 could no longer be claimed on tax returns without a social security number. By the 1990s every child was required to have a social security number immediately upon birth. It is common now to apply while the child is still in the hospital at birth.

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