Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How I use the Social Security Death Index

This post was sparked by a question I read on one of the genealogy group pages on Facebook.  In a nutshell, the question and comments were centered around how to copy and paste, or screenshot, the SSDI information on a person and add it to your file.

I don’t use the SSDI as a source because it is an index.  However, I do want record that I checked the SSDI and that I used this information to find sources to verify the information.  I will show you how I do that in just a minute.   Someone then commented that she couldn’t order SS-5s on everyone she found in the SSDI.  I agree wholeheartedly.  They cost $27 a piece.  The only reason I ever order an SS-5 is if I have exhausted every other means I can to determine someone’s parents.  I don’t need the SS-5 for any other reason.  The SS-5 does not provide any death information at all so you certainly wouldn’t order it for that.  If you want to see what is actually on an SS-5 then click any of the SS-5 hyperlinks in this paragraph.

So how do I add the SSDI to my file if I am not adding the information found and I am not using it as a source?  It will be recorded within a To-Do task and it will became part of my permanent research log.  Here are some screenshot examples.  These screenshots are from Legacy but most of the top genealogy programs have built in research logs so the principle is the same.   I will be using my great-grandfather as an example.  I don’t have any active examples right now so I will just use him to show you how I would enter everything.

Here is what I found in the SSDI:

GBScreenshot from GenealogyBank


And this is what I entered into Legacy’s To-Do List:

Screenshot from Legacy 8.0


FAGScreenshot from Legacy 8.0

Would I order Walter’s SS-5?  No I wouldn’t.  I have multiple pieces evidence that establishes his parents as John Judson Perry and Francis Lyons.  I would only order the SS-5 if I didn’t know who is parents were or if I had some conflict in the evidence that I have.  The SS-5 is a great source for parents because the informant is the child.  However, in this case I simply don’t need it.

The To-Do tasks become a permanent part of my research log.  I can follow the trail of how I uncovered things using the research log. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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