Member of the National Genealogical Society 2018
Member of the New Mexico Genealogical Society 2018

Genealogy - Where's the Easiest Place To Start?

Where's the easiest place to start? The Social Security Death Index!

Though created in August of 1935, monthly social security payments weren't issued until January of 1940. This is why you may not find information on your ancestors before that time.

You will find out legal and/or middle names, birth dates, death dates, and what the city/state of residence was for the last payment. (That doesn't mean that's where they actually lived)

Not all information on the form may be correct. Like records of the past, individuals signed up under what they wanted to call themselves, under initials only, and/or a date of birth as they knew it. Apparently, there was once leeway for proving identification for this benefit. 

With this information in hand, you may or may not be able to access the death index in their particular state. State death records can be a bust or a pot of gold when it comes to genealogy.

If your relatives died in the State of California, you will be fortunate enough to find out a mother's maiden name. In other states, you may receive a father's name as well, and in the State of West Virginia, we teasingly say, "You'll be lucky to find the name of the person who died!" They're all different.

Another hint while searching the death indexes is to lenient about the year of death as you know it. Place a range of years in the appropriate boxes, or no date at all. Data input typos are possible, or the information you have may be incorrect or not the same.

(Photo: View over the James River,, accessed 11/20/2017)

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