Tuesday, July 31

Social Security Death Index (SSDI)

I see dead people.

Well, sort of. With the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), I can quickly and easily pull up records of pretty much anyone with a Social Security number who has died in the past 50 years or so.

2012 Update: Rootsweb, long-time keeper of free SSDI lookups, has suddenly decided they need to charge for the privilege. What a shame. However, you can also access the Social Security Death Index at GenealogyBank's SSDI pageThank you GenealogyBank.

There are more than 80 million records in SSDI. Each record provides a full name, date of birth and death, geographical information, and even the deceased's Social Security number. Searching is very flexible and powerful, with an Advanced Search feature that can do even more. As with all resources at FreeGenealogyTools, searching SSDI is absolutely free.

When searching, be sure to use the actual SSDI search fields, and not the First Name / Last Name fields of the advertisements that usually appear on the site.

SSDI should be your first stop for researching anyone who has died since about 1960 (there are scattered earlier records in the system as well, but it is not complete).

Social Security Death Index Search Results

The King is Dead!

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.

Saturday, January 14

Free Help for the National Archives -- Know Your Records

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, DC

Usually, here at FreeGenealogyTools, we're highlighting digital resources you can access for free.

Today, we (and I'm using the royal we...it's really just me) are turning the tables a bit. The Know Your Records (KYR) program at the National Archives is asking for some free help from you.

KYR is a pretty cool program of seminars, newsletters and other outreach activities designed to introduce history researchers to the amazing collections at the National Archives. Most of KYR's activities have only been available in the Washington DC area. Now, KYR wants to put some of its videos online. Their genealogy lectures -- they've hosted hundreds over the years -- have covered topics like:
  • Access to Archival Databases (AAD) for Genealogists
  • Passport Applications, 1795–1925
  • Alien Files (A-Files) for Genealogy Research
  • The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company: A Gold Mine for Black and White Genealogists
  • World War II Finding Aid
  • Documenting Death in the Civil War
Good stuff! They even have specialty sessions on using Ancestry.com and other commercial family history resources that include NARA records.

Anyway, KYR wants your vote! Let NARA know which presentations you'd most like to see posted online at YouTube and iTunes U. Your votes will determine what new videos get posted...but you don't have to wait to get the flavor of what's available. A few KYR videos are already online at YouTube:
Have fun.

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